STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Differently-abled people suffer in silence amid Covid lockdown

Surej Kumar lives in a small house with his six-member family  near the Jatayu Earth’s Center at Chadayamangalam.

Published: 12th June 2021 07:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th June 2021 02:25 PM   |  A+A-

Padmanabhan, a differently-abled lottery seller from Kalladimukham, waits patiently for buyers in front of Pazhavangadi Ganapathy temple in Thiruvananthapuram | B P Deepu

Padmanabhan, a differently-abled lottery seller from Kalladimukham, waits patiently for buyers in front of Pazhavangadi Ganapathy temple in Thiruvananthapuram | B P Deepu

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Surej Kumar lives in a small house with his six-member family  near the Jatayu Earth’s Center at Chadayamangalam. A nasty fall from a coconut tree five years ago left Surej confined to a wheelchair. He didn’t want to depend on his family and was selling lotteries to eke out a living, but the pandemic and the lockdown was an unexpected blow for him. 

“After the fall, I cannot stand up without assistance. I made a living for years selling lotteries, but due to the lockdown restrictions, I haven’t been able to earn any money. I am now surviving with the help of my brother who is also struggling without consistent work,” shared 45-year-old Surej. Till now he hasn’t received any financial assistance from the government. The only aid is the food kits, Surej added.

Surej is not alone in this struggle. This is the story of many differently-abled people in the state whose livelihoods have been hit due to the pandemic. The financial crisis has forced most of them to stay with relatives or family members. Suresh Kumar, a paraplegic, has been making umbrellas for a living for the past 14 years. With schools remaining closed, Suresh hasn’t received even a single order this year. Last year too, Suresh lost business due to the first wave of the pandemic. 

“With the lockdown, my only source of livelihood has been badly hit. I used to make 10 umbrellas each day, which used to sell at `300 per piece. Now, it is difficult to procure raw materials. Since there are no orders from schools or other small organisations, I am making umbrellas only when there is an order,” he said. 

Kattakada resident Aji Kumar, who has been on a wheel chair since he suffered a near-fatal accident, is also hopeless since the lockdown. “Business has been hit severely due to the lockdown and we are unable to procure the raw materials or sell our products. I sell umbrellas and handicrafts. Now I have even stopped making them as there are no buyers. With no income, it has become difficult to feed the family,” he said.

Sindhu Sudevan, district president, All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF), said that since differently-abled people are immunocompromised, they have been advised against stepping out of their homes. 

“However, a lot of them were making a living by selling lotteries, making umbrellas or doing other odd jobs. But the lockdown has confined them to their homes and they are finding it difficult to feed them and their families,” he said. Though the state government had promised to consider them for priority vaccination, many are yet to receive it, said Sindhu.

ONLINE AID TO STAY AFLOAT 
While the pandemic has stripped many differently-abled people of their only means of livelihood, some others are finding ways to tackle the situation. Geetha Archa, who was diagnosed with polio at a young age, has been selling lotteries to earn a living for the past four years. However, like others, the lockdown pulled down curtains on her livelihood too. But, she found a solution for it. Geetha started selling lottery tickets using social media platforms. “It has been a year since I started selling lotteries online. However, only bumper lotteries can be sold virtually. Payments are made online by the customers and I have been able to earn at least K300 a day,” says Geetha.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp