by Father John Kumar Marthandam Integrated Development Society (MIDS) Diocese of Marthandam
Reaching out to the Isolated with Joy….
The sudden announcement of the lockdown was a double blow to the ordinary families in our area. They lost their daily wage, which was the sole source of income for them. Their movement is curtailed. It was a hard time for many families to manage their day-to-day expenses with their little income. Lockdown/shutdown blocked their income. Of course, the government has provided free ration to the ration cardholders. Families need to spend an extra amount on vegetables, fish, and other grocery items which become expensive during the lockdown period. Different philanthropic organizations did their level best to provide solace to the affected families which eased their sufferings. MIDS also was active in supporting the neediest families with food packets.
MIDS established a good collaboration with the district administration in taking up Covid-19 emergency responses. This has helped the organization to reach out to the neediest families in the district and obtain full cooperation from different departments.District Social Welfare officer (Mrs.Sarojini) brings to the notice of MIDS about the sad state of affairs of transgenders who are staying in transgender colony Lekshmipuram, Nagercoil due to lockdown and requested our intervention. MIDS community organizer and other key staff members visited their dwelling place and did a rapid assessment of their life situation. It was found that lockdown has curtailed their movement and source of income. They eke out a living by collecting money from the public by visiting trains, festival places, bars, and bus & railway stations. They never save money for their future. Lockdown curtailed their movement and they were confined to their dwelling place. Whatever food materials they have in stock finished within three days and they were starving. Sixty transgenders were staying in the same place with limited facilities. They were highly vocal when they were narrating their hardship due to lockdown and requested our staff to provide them at least some rice to endure their life. MIDS on receipt of the field visit report; considered it is our responsibility to support this section of people who are neglected by the line departments and the public.
We have transported the food materials to the place where they stayed and handed over to them in the presence of Mrs.Sarojini, District Social Welfare officer. We also provided protective face masks to them. We had distributed these reliefs following social distancing. MIDS director in brief explained to them about COVID 19 (Coronavirus) and the need for taking precautionary measures to avoid spreading. They were requested you face masks whenever they go out and follow social distancing in their dwelling place.
The transgender community was very grateful for our timely support which is evident from the words of Kanaga Durga a resident of the transgender camp “We received the food materials at a time when we need it the most, we normally face any problem in eating, and we get food from the public when we visit the families. Lockdown was a new situation; we were forced to sit inside our room. Normally people hate us and consider us nuisance and we were not dared to venture out to request assistance from the public rather we decided to starve. Good heart people from MIDS come to our rescue and they handed over the food materials to us with love & affection. I felt very much honored and experienced the love of God through MIDS. “.
It was a new experience for MIDS to work with the special group of people who are often ignored by all in normal times and in emergencies.