We must feed our own communities during the lockdown
Community participation key to fighting pandemic: WHO expert, Times of India, 17th April, 2020
Dipika Thakur is a transgender activist residing in the North-West district of Delhi. She works with Alliance India as manager of the Delhi Community Clinic under the Samarth Programme (a community-led programme on HIV screening and treatment linkage for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender (TG) communities).
As a transwoman, she is aware that quite a few of her fellow transgender community sisters are presently residing in nearby areas. Many of them migrated to Delhi for livelihood and are living in chronic poverty.
Several transgender women depend on sex work and begging for their daily survival. Due to the extended lockdown period for COVID-19, they are not able to fetch an earning for themselves and sustain their basic food requirements. The majority of them could not avail the government-supported monetary compensation scheme because they don’t have bank accounts.
“Sex work being a daily and dynamic profession has directly affected us due to the present lockdown”, says Seema (Name changed). During the lockdown period, a lot of transgender women are not able to earn and are in severe distress without food.
“I am happy that at least my basic food necessities will be taken care of”, said Munni (Name changed), when she was informed that the Alliance team is planning to distribute ration to the community members.
Considering the situation, Dipika tried to reach out to the ally agencies who had supported in the past. Two of the agencies – Zomato (Indian restaurant aggregator and food delivery start up) and Keshav Suri Foundation (non-profit organisation) responded to her call and agreed to provide packages of food items such as rice, flour, and lentils for the transgender women. At the same time, a few other civil society organizations reached out to her for providing support in the distribution of ration packets for the transgender population.
After receiving the confirmation from her allies, she felt elated. It had been a week-long struggle for the Samarth Delhi team to provide some sustenance for the transgender women who are in need desperately.
When Dipika invited them to collect rations, few of them became emotional and started crying. They said that they will never forget the support received in such a difficult time of lockdown.
Through this intervention, the Samarth team of Alliance India could provide sustenance (food package/ration) to 46 underprivileged transgender women for the next 20 days. The team has ensured that all the recipients are also provided information on COVID-19 prevention measures.
During this lockdown, they will keep themselves safe at home, since their food supplies are being taken care of.
“If more donors see our relief work with transgender population, hopefully, they would also contribute for the community as we are presently supporting 46 transgenders; with more support coming we might be able to support more transgender sisters.”, says Dipika with hope in her eyes.