This lockdown has been hard on Zainab*. She has no respite and break from her family members and fights in the house have increased a lot. Zainab lives in a village of Chittaurgarh district with her husband, two children- a daughter and a son, and her mother in-law. Her father in-law passed away several years ago and she dearly misses him because he has been the most supportive person in her family. Zainab is 44 years old and has orthopaedic disability since her childhood. She is a proud member of a disabled People’s Organisation supported by Sightsavers in Chittaurgarh. She works in a Self-Help Group (SHG) with successful trade. Zainab runs a grocery shop for which there was a lot of criticism from the family members because of her disability and gender. Nonetheless, she came out of it strong and became financially independent. The income from the SHG livelihood work has financially empowered her further.
The lockdown has given a big blow to Zainab’s income. However, she has permission to open her grocery shop daily but only for few hours in the morning. It is a big challenge for her to procure things from the wholesale market due to the lockdown. She deals with angry customers regularly as the prices of the regular consumables have gone up and at the same time endures the regular scrutiny by the police. It is quite exhausting to run a shop during a lockdown. Her day begins with household chores with next to no help from her husband or her son. Her daughter still helps sometimes but often complains of getting tired of the work. The mother in-law is old, so she does not expect her to work. She recounts- “Lockdown has burdened me with work. I have zero time for myself now”.
One of the partner organisations of Sightsavers in Chittaurgarh took an initiative for the district administration to make masks for which the women DPO members were engaged from the beginning. Zainab was actively engaged in making masks for the government. She enjoyed doing the work because it helped take her mind from the morose environment in the house. This was published in the mainstream newspaper which made her proud of their DPO. Zainab’s family members also took up some responsibility of getting household chores done when she was busy making masks. She wishes to get more such work as she wants to do as much as she can for the people during these tough times. Amidst her busy schedule, she took up the responsibility of ensuring that the persons with disabilities in her village received food packets distributed by the district administration.
Being part of the DPO, Zainab has access to work with the Panchayat members and Ward members of her village. Every day she updates the list of persons with disabilities with their current status of whether they have received food packets of not in coordination with the ASHA workers and health volunteers She educates the PWDs about Covid-19 and the latest government guidelines, encourages them to stay home, wash hands, and all the other precautions necessary to put a stop to this rapid growing pandemic. She is aware that many women in her village need sanitary napkins and therefore, she ensures to keep enough stock for them. Zainab confesses that the police is fairly strict about the movement of people in public which has deterred her from providing the women of her village with door to door services.
With a hint of despondence in her voice, Zainab said – “It’s a gloomy time for my favourite festival, Ramzaan. There is a shortage of necessities for everyone due to the lockdown. I hope that the pandemic ends soon so that we are able to resume the normalcy. I cannot wait to get back to my advocacy work and livelihood activities.”
*Name changed on request