COVID-19 Second Wave: Narratives from the Ground
The onset of the second wave of the pandemic has heightened and compounded challenges faced by marginalised people. The hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. Meanwhile, people are unable to access treatment for other health issues.
Noorbano Rajput lives in Behrampada in Bandra East with five family members — her father, brother, husband and two young children. Her 7-year-old daughter is handicapped. Noorbano was connected to YUVA when they were helping members of her community fill out disability forms, to get the Unique Disability ID Card. Her daughter’s application has been pending for a while, and now during the lockdown, the process has halted. She has been turned away from Cooper Hospital, where they said they will call her once the process has restarted. She is afraid that when things open up, she will have to restart the entire process and her daughter will never get the ID card.
“अब आगे का काम इतना मुश्किल होते जा रहा है न कि मुझे ऐसा लगने लगा है कि पता नहीं कि वोह कार्ड बनेगा भी की नहीं अधूरा ही रह जाएगा”
(Now the work ahead is becoming so difficult, that I feel I don’t know whether the card will be made or not, it will remain incomplete only)
Noorbano also cannot afford to take her daughter for therapy everyday. Transportation costs are also a barrier to education, because she cannot afford the daily travel costs of sending her child to school. It has also been difficult to find admission for her daughter in any public school, and private schools are too expensive.
Her husband is the sole earner in the family. He is a tailor, but he has not been able to work since one month due to the new restrictions. Last year during the lockdown, he was out of work for 6–7 months. The family is most concerned about rent. During the last lockdown, they were behind on 7 months’ rent, and now they are still behind on 3 months’ rent. Noorbano shared how even though the market opens more frequently this time around and supplies are available, they do not have any income to spend from.
Noorbano is an active participant in community meetings held by YUVA, especially on children and women’s issues. She is currently hesitant to take the vaccine, because of the fear being spread through rumours about people falling sick or passing away after taking the vaccine. However, she is most likely to take the vaccine, if anyone, from among her family members. Her husband does not want to. However she believes if she is convinced, others’ opinions and fears will not waver her resolve.
We will be sharing more stories from the ground as we continue our relief efforts, to understand the nuanced challenges people in different communities face during the second wave of the pandemic in India.
Contributed by Niyoshi Parekh and Taslim Khan