I tested positive for COVID and my family lost a huge portion of our income

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My name is Salma Khatoon. I have been living in Indira Camp, Andrews Ganj in Delhi for 20 years now. I moved here from Darjeeling. People in my hometown would say there are many opportunities in Delhi, so I decided to come here and I started working as a domestic worker.

I have lost my husband. Many years ago, my son went missing too. I live with my 30-year-old daughter and her three children in a two-storey house that I managed to build by working as a domestic worker.

My oldest granddaughter is 17. We could not continue her education due to financial problems so she started working with us as a domestic worker too. The second one does not go to school either. She takes care of her younger sister and does all the domestic chores when me and my daughter are at work. The youngest one is still in school.

The second wave of COVID has been a very challenging time for us. When I received my COVID vaccination, I got a severe cold and felt so tired that I had to consult a doctor for help. The doctor prescribed medication that didn’t help, and on multiple occasions I was so tired, I fell asleep in my employer’s home. Consequently, they asked me to stop coming to work and get tested. When I took the test, it was positive. I isolated myself at the top floor of my house for sixteen days, but as the breadwinner of the family, the loss of my income hit us hard.

My daughter’s income was not enough to sustain us all. Struggling with such little money and so many mouths to feed made me feel extremely helpless. Even though my employers are calling me back to work, now that I’ve tested negative again, I am unable to go back until I’ve completely recovered from the effects of COVID.

When Salma was contacted by the MFF COVID Relief Team, she was in tears throughout the conversation, given how difficult her situation is currently. Her story is a part of MFF’s Lockdown Stories series, which consist of everyday lived  experiences of domestic workers in the COVID-19 Second Wave. There’s no data around the needs and experiences of domestic workers in this fight against the coronavirus. MFF along with its partner networks is attempting to bridge this gap. Join us in advocating for change and ensuring protection for domestic workers through prioritised vaccinations, relief package distribution and all other benefits being extended to frontline workers.

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