Timely Intervention

Timely Intervention

Abhinaya is 35 years old and resides in M.K.B Nagar, in Chennai, with her partner Bhavani. Abhinaya had left home at a very early age to fend for herself and to create an identity. She started working in a fish market — cleaning fishes and earning a living.

Abhinaya is a transgender and like everyone’s story, hers too has a fair share of bullying and rejection. And like all of them Abhinaya too fought back and emerged. “I realised I was different at a very young age. This came as a rude shock to my parents and my friends. My body language and expressions did not match my gender but I could not help it. At 18, I left my family and decided to work and take care of myself. I did all kinds of work. I even joined a group of transgenders and began begging. That was the lowest point in my life,” shares Abhinaya.

But not prepared to let her dignity trampled upon, she stopped begging and instead started working at a fish shop. “I did not have enough money to set my own shop. So I started assisting as a fish cleaner.” The earning isn’t much but it takes care of her needs on a day to day basis.

It was going fairly well until the pandemic hit. As the number of cases began to rise, the state imposed a statewide lockdown. People like Abhinaya suffered as they were left stranded without any support. “There is no more fish market and there are no industries or shops open. I have no income. I managed for a few days with the little ration that I had. But it was difficult to sustain after some time. I began reducing my meal each day. Finally, it came down to one meal a day,” says Abhinaya.

She received Rs 2000 from the government relief fund. “We are glad to receive the amount but it did not last long. I was on the lookout pretty soon.” It was at this juncture that volunteers from Oxfam India, BLESS and Barclays reached her through Rajini Ammal.

As part of the response, Oxfam India has been reaching out to some of the most marginalised communities across 14 states. And with ample support from its donors it has been distributing cooked food, dry ration, hygiene and safety kits, and distributing cash to the poorest households.

Barclays is one of them. With Barclays support, Oxfam India has reached out to 11550 people in five states — Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. They include people with disabilities, women-led households, waste pickers, domestic workers, transgenders, tea garden workers, migrant and informal sector workers, riot-affected families, daily wagers, and street vendors.

In Chennai alone, we  have reached out to 1550 households with food and hygiene kit which included 20 kgs of Rice, 3 kgs of pulses, 10 kgs of flour, a packet of haldi and chili powder each, a litre of refined oil, a kg of salt, sugar and soy bean. The kit also includes five units of masks, and six units of bathing soap, washing soap and sanitary napkins each..

“I believed that God had listened to my prayers. They had taken down my name as a potential beneficiary. I am glad that I did not have to beg or be a burden to anyone at all. I thank the organizations that have given me this support during the very hour of need. I shall remember this help forever. It has safeguarded my dignity and life as a whole,” says Abhinaya.

(The author is from BLESS, Chennai)

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