In Dakshinpuri, Suman, a domestic worker, faces a troubling reality. In the second wave of the pandemic, she had been dismissed from all the houses where she had worked.
She was working in a kothi last month when another domestic worker told her that her employer and their daughter had tested positive for COVID. They did not inform her.
Suman immediately stopped going to work, but by then, she had already been exposed to the virus, as she had continued to do all her work as before in the kothi. A few days later, Suman woke up with an aching body and a rapid assessment test confirmed her biggest fear. She was COVID positive.
Living in a one-room apartment meant Suman had to be isolated in the kitchen. All her employer had to say to her was, “COVID toh hawa se phailta hai, hume kya pata kahan se hua tumhe (Covid is in the air, how are we to know where you got it from)”. Upon her insistence, her employers only agreed to pay her for the work she had done that month, and when someone went to collect the money on her behalf, the apartment was empty. The family had left the city.
Martha Farrell Foundation is providing relief in the form of rations, sanitary and medical essentials to domestic workers in Delhi and Haryana. The Covid Relief and distribution network is co-managed by a team of women who include program staff and domestic workers like Lata. We ended our conversation last night with Lata telling me that she will ensure that every domestic worker in need receives ration, even if it means that she will have to visit every house herself.