My employers aren’t paying me much, but I’m grateful to have a job

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My name is Durga Devi and I am a resident of Taimoor Nagar in Delhi. I’m originally from Madhubani in Bihar, and moved here over fifteen years ago. Over the last eight years, I’ve been working as a domestic worker. My husband is an autorickshaw driver. We live with my son, daughter-in-law and their two children, my granddaughter and grandson.

The last year has been extremely challenging for us, with the pandemic upon us. My husband and son have both lost their jobs. My husband was infected with COVID, and the person whose autorickshaw he rented to drive rented it out to someone else. So, now my husband sits idle.

I also fell seriously ill last year, and had to go to my hometown for three months. The doctors told me it was because I have an ulcer in my stomach, which was causing me severe pain. Whatever little my husband and I had saved for our future, was utilised for my treatment, leaving us with no money.

This year has been even tougher. Survival has become very difficult for us, since I lost all my part-time jobs (I was working in 5 households) in April. My granddaughter, who is just one, has no milk to drink. We simply cannot afford milk.

Last year, during lockdown, we were borrowing rations from a shop nearby. We paid off our debt to the owner. This year, he’s not understanding our situation. He recently stopped giving us milk.

In desperation, I took up a 24*7 job in one kothi, where I dust and clean. I’m not making much, but I am thankful to at least have a job. Perhaps, if I had been a cook, my salary would have been higher.

I miss my granddaughter very much but I cannot go to see her, even though she’s nearby. I feel so helpless, as if my feet are tied up. I just hope things improve in the coming months. This time is really hard for us.

This 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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