The 20 something old college student had to take up this work after, her father, the sole earning member of her family lost his job following lockdown.
Says Gayathri, “My father used to work as a daily wage earner at construction sites besides taking up other small jobs. But following lockdown, he lost his job. My mother is a housewife.”
So a few months ago, when Chennai Corporation called for volunteers to work as fever surveyors on contract basis, Gayathri, being the only child for her parents had no choice other than taking up this job to support her family. “My parents are aged and would not be able to handle this work,” she says.
Now, everyday Gayathri visits at least 400 households and checks residents for virus symptoms (fever, cough, breathlessness)
“During the morning break, that is provided for us to have breakfast, I attend the one-hour online class that my college conducts, after quickly finishing my morning meal. I then go on to do my Covid duty.”
Gayathri says she is a first-year student at a local college. “Paying college fees has not been a problem now as my college has given us enough time to pay it, ” she says and adds, “The monthly salary of Rs 15, 000 I get out of doing this work is the only means of our survival now.”
Ask her if she finds Covid work challenging, she says, “Initially it was difficult. But now it’s quite easy for me. Many residents are cooperating well and have become friends too. One aunty also gives me juice every day.”
Like Gayathri, Sooraj (name changed), a college student and resident of another congested colony in Mylapore too is a Covid worker. “My mother, a single parent lost her job as a domestic helper after lockdown.” Hence, when Sooraj knew that Corporation was recruiting people for Covid work, he immediately took it up “to support my two-member family, that is my mother and me.”
“I’m able to manage this work now, since my college is yet to begin online classes,” he says.
Similar to Gayathri and Sooraj dozens of youngsters mostly college students from the nearby kuppams have taken up Covid work to support their families. And they seem to be doing it very enthusiastically. “We are very happy to do this work as it serves the dual purpose of supporting our families and offering service to the society during these trying times,” Sooraj says.