In my case it is very difficult to manage. Due to lockdown we have lost work and income. If it continues, we will have to face many problems. We don’t have ration cards and other identity proof. The government is distributing groceries and 1000 rupees for every family. But as we don’t have identity cards, we have not getting this help from the government. Only those who are rich are getting help from the government. We have tried to meet some government officers to request help for the waste pickers’ community, but they haven’t come forward. What they are thinking is that if they visit our slums, they will get corona. At the same time, we are also afraid.
Waste picker in the informal sector
The pastor, after coronavirus came… he gave us food worth 250 rupees, Madam. He also… he also doesn’t have much to begin with. He also works. When they said that people here shouldn’t go there, people there shouldn’t come here, right Madam. That’s why he organised many kinds of relief – blankets, food.
This organisation helped us in critical times. They have helped us so much. The government has not done anything for us except for those 2 kg of rice which I mentioned earlier. Leaving that aside, nobody has done anything. The organisation supported us and that is how we could manage for 1 month. The rest of the time we spent the money we had from here and there, and somehow managed the rest of the time.
Our organisation people gave us masks. Then the government, municipality people also gave us masks… for our children.
A doctor gave us soaps, shampoos, flour… to make chappatis… flour, Madam. Coffee powder, sugar…he gave these to us… the doctor. He gives us vegetables, gives us rice, gives us oil, he gives us everything.
All of us are at home only. No earnings at all. It has been a tough, very tough 2 ½ months. We have never faced such difficulties in our lives. If we had not received any support from this organisation, it would have been very, very tough. They gave us one month’s provisions, and then we got some from the public distribution system (‘ration shop’) which helped us maintain our lives.
In this lockdown we are not able to go for collecting waste, and it is not possible to sell the collected waste material.
If we have a lockdown, poor people like us will suffer a lot. Although others who have to move around outside are somewhat similar to us in that sense, we [the poor] cannot survive a lockdown. If a lockdown is imposed, about half the people like us will die because we won’t have anything, that’s a guarantee.
Whatever he [husband] used to earn in a day, 400-500 rupees, he would drink right there and then. He would spend all the money. Not just that, whatever we would earn, he would take that away, hit me, and use the money to buy alcohol. He is not drinking anymore. Nobody has any money either. It has become very difficult at home.