Covid orphans: 306 children lost at least one parent in Madurai

One of the most devastating trails this pandemic has left behind is to orphan children.

Published: 22nd August 2021 03:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd August 2021 03:18 AM   |  A+A-

COVID orphans

Representational image (Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

MADURAI:  One of the most devastating trails this pandemic has left behind is to orphan children. A data accessed by Express reveals that the virus has wreaked havoc in the lives of 306 children in Madurai district alone, taking away their beloved parents. They include 299 children who lost one parent, and seven children who lost both parents to the deadly virus.

Of them, 179 children, including five adolescents who lost both parents to Covid, have been shortlisted as eligible beneficiaries, in the first phase, of the monetary compensation announced by the State government.

A senior official in the district administration, on condition of anonymity, said, “Of the total 306 children identified so far, 179 beneficiaries who have provided the unique identification numbers like Tamil Nadu Integrated Poverty Portal Services (TIPPS) ID have been shortlisted after due verification of claims. The remaining, too, would be recommended for the compensat ion in a phased manner.”

Children of government staff become ineligible for the solatium provided by the government, but are eligible for welfare assistance extended by the Union government, the official mentioned. Thus, out of the seven Covid orphans identified in the district, only five are eligible for the State’s compensation, he mentioned.

Govt aid brings solace to children, guardians

“Last week, a government order was issued for the disbursal of compensation (`5 lakh each) for the five children. Accordingly, a 16-year-old boy, from Ellis Nagar in Madurai, was the first recipient of the solatium, that was transferred to his account as Fixed Deposit. Meanwhile, compensation for the other 174 children (`3 lakh each) is awaited,” the official mentioned.

Speaking to Express, S Sridevi (43) from Villapuram, step-aunt of 17-year-old Manikandan* and 13-year-old Tamilarasi* said, “Their father passed away due to heart attack in September last year. He worked as a helper in vegetable markets. His wife had to quit her work at an export firm a few months before his demise as she had fallen ill. Their mother passed away on May 27, after testing positive for Covid at the Government Rajaji Hospital. No one came forward to help the two kids when their parents died.”

Since then, Sridevi, a mother of three and a tailor, has been a pillar of support for the children. With no help from her estranged husband, she single-handedly raised her two sons and daughter who are employed now. “As the couple did not leave behind any savings or properties, the children stood homeless after their demise, staring at a bleak future. I had cared for them since their infancy, and took them in, as promised to their mother,” she said.

Manikandan, who was in class 10 a couple of years ago, dropped out of school and is now adamant not to continue education. Meanwhile, Tamilarasi, too, fell behind in academics after her father’s death. Now, the responsibility of shaping their future solely lies with Sridevi. “I am determined to raise the two well, just as I raised my children, fighting all odds. But at the same time, the pandemic has shown how unpredictable life can be. It is during such moments of uncertainty, the compensation announced by the government gives me a solace,” she concluded.

Similarly, A Balakrishnan, a resident of Nagamalai Pudukottai, is now the guardian of 15-year-old Janani*, a class XII student who lost both her parents to Covid in May, in the same week. Janani who was living with her parents at Karur now lives with her aunt in Madurai. “Despite the irreplaceable loss of my parents, I feel blessed to have another family. My aunt and uncle have treated me as their own,” Janani said.

On coping with her loss, the teenager said, “I push through the day as I am mostly preoccupied with studies. It is during nights when I feel overwhelmed with grief, missing them the most. All I do is cry. I am sure they are watching me from above.”

(*Names changed)


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