We’re surviving this lockdown by relying on donation drives

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My name is Neelu and I am 32 years of age. I live in Govindpuri, Delhi with my children. I came to this city after my husband left us, and my father helped me in settling here. He was also helping me and my family financially, but last year he passed away.

I have been working as a domestic worker ever since I came to Delhi to make ends meet. I was working in four households when last year’s lockdown happened. I lost all four jobs.

“Ghar pe baitho virus faila hua hai” my employers told me. But how will I feed my children by sitting at home?

I’ve never really known an easy life. To save on wedding expenses, my father got me married when I was just 10 years old, along with my sister’s wedding! My husband was 23 then. I was 12 years old when I had my first child, a daughter. She is now married. My oldest son, who’s just 16, has dropped out of school and left us to live with his father in Ludhiana.

Two of our children, who live with me.

We’re surviving this lockdown by relying on rations that are distributed during donation drives. They come occasionally to our community.

I have a ration card in my father’s name, but I only get 10 kg of wheat through it. Sometimes, we get rice, but if that’s the case, they cut the quantity of wheat they give. We don’t get sugar or oil.

All of it is taking a toll on my physical health. I have a stone in my bladder, which the doctors say needs to be surgically removed, but how can I afford surgery?

“Ghar mein khilane waala koi nahi hai. Operation karwaa loongi toh bacchon ko kaun sambhalega?”

 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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