Transgenders dip into their savings to feed the poor in West Bengal

Devi and her four disciples’ lives have undergone a radical change since then. They have become providers to the villagers, who gave them alms for all these years, in the district’s Beldanga-1block.
The transgenders are dipping into their meagre resources to buy food for these villagers amid the ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown that started on March 25.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
The transgenders are dipping into their meagre resources to buy food for these villagers amid the ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown that started on March 25.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 11, 2020 02:17 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Berhampore | BySreyasi Pal

Sajani Devi, a transgender person, earned their livelihood by begging from Majhpara villagers in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district until the state reported its first coronavirus disease (Covid-19) positive case on March 17.

Devi and her four disciples’ lives have undergone a radical change since then. They have become providers to the villagers, who gave them alms for all these years, in the district’s Beldanga-1block.

They are dipping into their meagre resources to buy food for these villagers amid the ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown that started on March 25 to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. They are distributing 3 kilograms of rice, 1.5 kg of potato, 500 grams of onion and an equal quantity of salt, 200 grams of puffed rice and a packet of soybean to each villager. The distribution is being held in strict adherence to social distancing norms.

“The lockdown has hit us hard. We’ve been deprived of our daily income, as we can’t go out to beg. I’m giving back what I got from the villagers for long. We’ve helped 300 villagers so far,” said Devi.

“Most of these villagers are poor. Though the state government’s ration shops are distributing rice and essential items for free, unfortunately, the quantity isn’t sufficient for many families,” Devi added.

“We started buying the provisions for the people from Majhpara, Sahebpara and Paharipara villages after some of them approached us if we could organise dry food through our community, which is known for its wide network,” Devi said.

“Most people in our society look down upon us, suspect us and call us all kinds of names. I hope our initiative will encourage the rich to contribute more to the vulnerable sections of the society during this unprecedented emergency,” Devi added.

Rahamat Sheikh, a villager who received dry food packets from Devi, agreed with the transgender person’s perception. “We used to treat them harshly before the Covid-19 outbreak. The crisis has made me realise how sympathetic and sensitive the transgender people can be. It’s a lesson we should never forget,” Sheikh said

Beldanga-1 community block development officer (BDO) Birupakshya Mitra, who was present during the food distribution programme, praised the transgender community members’ generosity amid the healthcare crisis. “It’s a laudable initiative. I hope more people will come forward to help the poor during this crisis,” the BDO said.

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Friday, January 28, 2022