Sitting at Chennai Corporation’s Mandaveli shelter, Dharmaraj eagerly waits to get back to his village near Rameswaram. Dharmaraj is a daily wage construction labourer who lost his job following lockdown.
Says Dharmaraj, “After the lockdown, I lost my job. As I was living on the streets, the Corporation rescued and brought me to this shelter. Here, I’m thankful the shelter provides me food three times a day. But, I’m worried about my wife and children back home. I’m unable to check on their whereabouts as my wife does not have a mobile phone.”
“Since I do not have work, I have not been able to send money to my family for a month now,” says the 40-year-old.
Like, Dharmaraj, many others at the shelter say they are worried about their families and want to get back to their native places as soon as possible.
“At least if I go to my village, I will do farming and spend time with my family. It will be good if GCC arranges for a vehicle to ferry us to our native places,” he says.
Meanwhile, with no money in hand, Dharmaraj says life at the shelter has become tough. “We face difficulties in buying essentials like toothpaste and brush.”
Also, Dharmaraj and his friends feel it will be refreshing to have some hot tea. “We are not able to get tea at the shelter. It will be refreshing to drink chai. So recently, some of us sold our mobile phones to buy tea and essential stuff.”
Dharmaraj says they sold their phones to vegetable vendors. “The vendors gave me some Rs.300. With that, I’m managing my expenses until now. But going forward, I don’t know how I will manage.”
When asked how he would manage without a mobile phone, he says, “For the time being, as I had no other stuff at hand, I sold my mobile phone. In case of emergencies, to make a call I plan to ask help from other inmates at the shelter.”