With no job or money, Sunitha (name changed) now goes around the neighbourhood door delivering veggies and groceries to home-quarantined persons. And there are many like her – youths who were employed in the service or trade sectors which has shut shop and have no income to pay staff and are picking up anything that keeps home fire burning.
Sunitha is one among the many ‘FOCUS’ volunteers that Chennai Corporation roped in recently. The civic body recruited them to door deliver essentials at the houses of virus-positive persons, under home quarantine.
And Sunitha had to take up this job as her family income dried up, post lockdown.
Says Sunitha, a resident of Mylapore, “I was working as a canteen-in-charge at a local school.My husband is an auto driver. Post lockdown, our incomes dried up. There were no jobs.”
With two small girls at home, Sunitha says she was struggling to make ends meet for some three months since March.
And when she heard of the GCC call, Sunita and her husband signed up. “I know it is a risk to work as a volunteer. But we have no other option to earn money now.”
Sunitha says Chennai Corporation has promised to pay Rs.15,000 per month. “The money is the only hope to run our families in the lockdown period,” she says.
Like Sunitha, many college students, dailywage workers and youth who lost their jobs post lockdown are such volunteers.
Her typical day starts at 7 am and ends at 4 pm. “Every day, we get a list of houses that we have to visit. It will include the residence of persons under home-quarantine who taken the swab tests and virus-positive persons, under home quarantine.”
At each house, Sunitha lists the essentials needed and delivers them. “I deliver everything – from medicines to groceries. I have also given my mobile number to them so they can reach me whenever they want.”
To prevent the virus spread, Sunitha wears a mask and gloves. “We also insist people to make online payment. But the fear remains”
The 34-year-old will go on with this work till September, as the Corporation has recruited them till then. “After that, we don’t know how we will survive,” she says.