This year’s Southwest Monsoons hit the country hard.
West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were lashed with heavy rainfall, resulting in floods. While there isn’t an official number of casualties, it is certain that thousands of people have been severely affected.
While large-scale rescue and flood relief operations were undertaken by government agencies and defence forces, some members of West Bengal’s transgender community took to organizing flood relief efforts themselves.
Over 40 transgenders from Kolkata, Malda and North Dinajpur came together and collected clothes, food, Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS),and water purifying tablets and distributed them among victims in the worst affected areas in the state.
Leading the project in Malda is Debi Acharya, who initiated the project by going from door-to-door to collect relief materials with other transgender rights activists.
“Collection from Malda district alone will be inadequate. So, I contacted my associates in Kolkata and the transgender rights group, Samabhabana. They helped by collecting material from Kolkata and transporting them to Malda and North Dinajpur,” Debi told Hindustan Times.
Despite being discriminated at every point in life, the members from the community did not show any prejudice in extending their help and support to people. “Our relief work is for everyone and not just for the flood- affected people from our own community,” she added.
While Debi is coordinating the relief activities in Malda, it is Joyita Mahi Mondal and her organisation Notun Aalo (New Light) that is taking care of the relief operation in North Dinajpur.
“We face discrimination every day. Society is not bothered about us. But in this moment of crisis, we could not ignore the call of humanity,” said Joyita.
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For those who did not know, Joyita is a Lok Adalat judge in West Bengal, the first transgender to become so.
Avinaba Dutta, who is a Kolkata-based LGBTQ rights activist, is handling the arrangements for the city. After being contacted by Debi, Avinaba brought in Samabhabana’s founder Raina Roy and the founder of city’s first LGBTQ café (Amra Odbhuth Café) for assistance.
Together they have dispatched two teams armed with relief materials for Malda and North Dinajpur.
You can reach out to Samabhabna at firstname.lastname@example.org and Notun Aalo on Facebook.