COVID has resulted in a huge economic impact across the globe. Lockdown to prevent the spread of infection has brought economy to a standstill, hitting the poor very badly. Hunger and poverty are a bigger threat than COVID-19 itself.
Challenges faced by the vulnerable population:
Sex workers, transgender and people living with HIV are facing a huge backlash from this pandemic. Since their livelihood is at stake right now, for them survival has also become a challenge with each passing day.
Transgender, who either beg or involve in sex work, are forced to stay indoors. Similarly, many sex workers who were involved in this trade to fend for their families, are also unable to take this impact as not all of them were prepared for this kind of a situation. Things are particularly difficult for sex workers and transgender who are HIV positive, live in extreme poverty and are suffering with no support. The ration provided in the ration shop is of a very poor quality and those living with HIV need to have proper food along with the ART medicines in order to improve their life span.
Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) has been working in Tamil Nadu since 2006 across multiple cities on different projects particularly media advocacy for vulnerable population, social inclusion of sex workers and transgender.
Between 2012 and 2016, CFAR also ran a single window near Rajaji hospital to help people access various Government schemes in Madurai.
CFAR identified over 200 highly vulnerable sex workers, transgender community in Madurai belonging to Betaniyapuram, Arapalayam, and Manjamedu Colony. We had approached Father J.M.Das from Kodaikanal who referred us to Fr.Michaelraj MSJE Trust, Madurai for support.
Since the Trust was already into relief work and they had already provided relief to many people, they came forward to support CFAR and provided a financial support of Rs.25,000/-
In order to ensure that most of them are benefited, CFAR decided to distribute ration for 52 families from Arapalayam, Betaniyapuram and Manjamedu @ Rs. 475 per relief kit.
Our former colleague, Ms. Rani who is also currently the President of Sri Lakshmi Pengal Munnetra Sangam, a Community Based Organisation of sex workers, helped in identifying the 52 most vulnerable sex workers, People living with HIV and transgender from Madurai.
She identified and negotiated with Sri Kannan Departmental Store, Pvt, Ltd located near Fatima College, Madurai and shared the bank details with MJSE Trust.
Once the money got transferred to the account, the shop took the responsibility of delivering the packs to Rani’s house.