CHENNAI: Though 50-year-old Hairunbi does not subscribe to Hinduism, she is thankful for Ganesh Chathurti for she had a busy week making trinkets and stringing flowers, allowing her to take her mind off everything else. Hairunbi was brought to the Greater Chennai Corporation’s night shelter by her sister after the death of her son. Ever since, she looked forward to set up stalls at the Ripon buildings, which she has done eight times now.
Inmates from 13 homeless shelters brought their trinkets to the Ripon buildings on Thursday, most of which had a lot to do with Ganesh Chathurti: Ganesha idols and decorations. “We sell an idol, along with an umbrella and a little garland for `150,” said N Nagarajan, coordinator of the Injambakkam night shelter run in collaboration with the Kannagi Nagar Podhu Nala Sangam NGO. “The inmates decide how to split the income among themselves after deducting the food and travel expenses,” he said.
Balasubramanian M, 39, slept on the streets of MC Road before he found out about the night shelter.
“I used to purchase earrings and bracelets in wholesale and sell them at temple festivals years ago. Now, I make my own and also teach other inmates to make them too,” said the inmate of the Bharathi Nagar shelter.
Though the city Corporation helps the inmates set up stalls and market their products, the NGOs, in most cases, are left to fund the cost of materials. Funds for rehabilitation are not a part of the Scheme of Shelters for Urban Homeless under the Centre’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana, which leaves little options for those inmates who want to take the initiative up on a larger scale, said experts.
“Since there are no funds allocated for rehabilitation under the DAY-NULM scheme, funds from other livelihood programmes under the scheme could be siphoned off for rehabilitation, allowing them to scale up their businesses,” said Vanessa Peter, a policy researcher from The Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC).