Certainly Positive, In Her Resolve

Certainly Positive, In Her Resolve

Nirupama’s* life wasn’t a bed of roses. The COVID-19 lockdown just made it worse. She is HIV positive and a widow, who is taking care of three children, one of who is infected too.

But her resolve to take care of her children despite her condition is commendable. When Oxfam India, as part of its COVID-19 response, provided Rs 5,000 to Nirupama, she decided to make this money count.

Six years ago when her husband, a migrant labourer, returned from Kerala he found out he was HIV positive. His health deteriorated and he died within four months but not before infecting his wife and their youngest son. Her world turned upside down.

She is undergoing the Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) and she is quite weak. Yet she was working to support her family. A daily wage earner, Nirupama lives in Tunigaon* village in Odisha’s Kandhamal district. She stopped earning anything due to the lockdown which was imposed on 25 March, 2020.

The 35-year-old receives Rs 500 per month under the Madhu Babu Pension Scheme (a state social security scheme that clubs Old Age Pension and Odisha Disability Pension scheme), but that is not enough to sustain her family. Given the condition of her family, her oldest child was sent to foster care sponsored by the government; the younger two stay with her.

As part of the COVID-19 response, Oxfam India along with Give India Foundation provided cash of Rs 5,000 for marginalised and most vulnerable families. In Odisha, 450 households were identified for this unconditional cash transfer. Oxfam India scouted 24 districts in the state with the help of 25 NGO partners and identified the most distressed and vulnerable households.

In Kandhamal, our partner NGO SWATI identified the most marginalised, distressed, and vulnerable families. Nirupama’s was one of them. In fact, when Oxfam India—SWATI reached her, she had run out of medicines. As soon as the money reached the bank, she withdrew the money. First she bought her medicines and then she went about investing in what would be most useful to ensure sustainable income for the family.

Nirupama started a small shop selling vegetables. She procures the vegetables every morning from the farmers’ fields in the villages and then sells it in the nearby market. She earns about Rs 200 every day. “I hope to continue selling vegetables even after the restrictions are lifted”, says a relieved and confident Nirupama”. The 5,000 rupees has clearly sown hope for a better future and she is not ready to let the opportunity go.

*name changed

Inputs by: Mr. Pradip Kumar Swain, Programme Manager – SWATI, Kandhamal, Odisha

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