Mrs. Rathnamma is a 35 year old garment worker from Kandavara Village, in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka. She is the sole provider for the four members of her family since her husband’s labouring job provides a rather unstable income. The restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus meant that Mrs. Rathnamma lost her daily wages and was left with nothing to support her family.
Mrs. Rathnamma has been a member of the Pragathi Arogya group and the Soukhya Sanjeevini Samsthe, coummunity organisations (COs) for sex workers, for the last two years. She has regularly participated in all group activities and has availed benefits from the group’s health, financial and computer literacy sessions. As a result, the COs were aware of Mrs. Rathnamma’s difficult position since the onset of the COVID-19 restrictions.
The COs were facing their own set of challenges. While distributing essential supplies to marginalized communities, they quickly realized that surgical masks, with their short 6 hour lifespan, were not sustainable for distribution. They therefore requested Mrs. Rathnamma to stitch 500 washable and reusable cloth masks, suited for distribution.Out of the 500 masks that Mrs. Rathnamma produced for Soukhya Sanjeevini Samsthe, 300 have been distributed to marginalised community members by facilitators, the board of directors, peer educators and volunteers. Local donors from the Chikkaballapur block agreed to financially support Mrs. Rathnamma’s venture by transferring 5000 INR directly into her bank account in order to fund the manufacturing process.
This project was able to support Mrs. Rathnamma’s family as well as provide crucial protective equipment to vulnerable communities during the pandemic. The mantra of the community is “Stay safe, spread love.” This has never been more relevant
“Being a member of the Soukhya Sanjeevini Samsthe helped me acquire and cultivate new skills to become financially independent. During COVID-19, I was able to utilise my skills to save my family’s livelihood” – Mrs. Rathnamma
Contributors: Tishya Desai, Suresh Garageti, Mamatha V