Since March 2020 , several men and women working as domestic help in various households, particularly in urban areas have lost their jobs and are struggling to meet their financial needs without a source of income.
According to a recent report in the Economic Times, at least 60-70% of domestic workers may not even have received their salaries during the lockdown.
Although this is a cause for concern, the pandemic also turned out to be a turning point for several domestic workers when their employers decided to help them out through various means. From helping them set up their own business to gaining popularity on Instagram, here are five instances where people across the country decided to lend a helping hand to their domestic help to cope with the lockdown.
How A Crab Curry Gave Saroj Didi A Livelihood
Ankit Vengurlekar, a content creator based In Bengaluru, has been a fan of the food made by his cook, Saroj, ever since he hired her last year. But when the lockdown was implemented, like every other domestic worker, Saroj also had to stay back home and was unable to go to any of her employer’s houses.
And by the time Unlock 2 was implemented, people had resumed travelling but were still very sceptical about bringing back their domestic help.
“Saroj didi had lost a few of her clients and had the additional burden of debt as a result of a land dispute. Her husband had passed away early in their marriage and she was the sole breadwinner for her family of three children. At that point, I first thought of helping her out with money but later realised that it would only be a temporary solution,” Ankit explains.
In an attempt to help her out, Ankit decided to post a video of Saroj’s outstanding Mangalorean-style Crab curry on his Twitter account, asking people to place orders.To his surprise, the post blew up and orders from across Bengaluru started pouring in.
“I did not expect such a huge turnout, in fact, several famous accounts like Vikas Khanna and Google India retweeted my post and we got a huge reach and soon my phone was flooded with calls,” Ankit adds.
In order to fulfil all the orders, Ankit opened up his own kitchen and arranged for the delivery services as well.
“But after a point, it was hard for me to do all the coordination since I had to manage it along with my full-time day job. So I reached out to Conosh India who agreed to take care of the order placement and the delivery services. I also arranged a 1 BHK house for Saroj didi in HSR layout, so she could peacefully do all of her cooking,” he explains.
Saroj Didi now delivers her famous Mangalorean Crab curry, Kerala fish curry, Puran poli and has even started a daily tiffin service for South Bengaluru. You can place orders through WhatsApp on 9902771568.
A Couple That’s Selling Breakfast To Help Their Cook
Even before the pandemic, Ashwini Shenoy and her husband Ankush Nilesh Shah, a Mumbai-based couple, were working towards helping their 55-year-old cook raise funds for her paralysed husband.
“Our cook has been working for us since last August and her husband had fallen ill and was paralysed. We wanted to offer her money but we knew she wouldn’t accept it so we proposed a plan to sell breakfast that she made and she agreed to it,” Ashwini explains.
The couple set up a stall outside the Kandivali West railway station in October and offered hot idlis, poha and parathas that were prepared by the lady. And in just a matter of two weeks, people started enquiring about the purpose behind the stall and it soon went viral on social media.
“We started selling breakfast from 4.00-9.30 am right before we had to head out for work and after the news of the stall went viral we started getting bulk orders and help from across the country started pouring in for our cook,” she explains.
With the success of their stall, the couple decided to help build livelihoods for other women going through similar struggles and launched the ‘Annapoorna Paratha Stall in Kandivali West, Mumbai.
“We decided to collaborate with women across Mumbai who were struggling to meet their financial needs and started providing affordable meal options. With the pandemic in force, we are now taking orders in Mumbai through Whatsapp,” Ashwini explains.
You can place your orders through this number: 9223511977
This Chennai Cop Helped Radhe Amma Get Her Job Back
In July, Radhe Amma, 55, a sanitation worker in a residential complex in Chennai tested positive for COVID-19. But even after her recovery, several members of the complex refused to let her continue working at there houses and faced severe discrimination.
On hearing this incident, IPS officer Hari Kiran, DCP, T. Nagar visited the complex and convinced the people to let her return to work.
“She is a single lady and has no other support. Because KK Nagar comes under my area, I was informed about the situation and during my rounds, I personally visited Radhe Amma’s home and assured her of help,” the DCP said.
Although the complex authorities had hired a replacement, they assured that they would help her out and hire her for other work in the complex.
How Actor Archana Puran Singh Turned Bhagyashree Into An Instagram Star
Since The beginning of April, actor Archana Puran Singh has been posting a series of pictures and videos of her live-in house help Bhagyashree. As a result of the lockdown, the actor’s family has had the chance to interact and get to know Bhagyashree a lot more.
“It made us introspect whether we say thanks to them as many times as we should,” Archana Singh told the Economic Times.
The actor has also been giving financial advice to Bhagyashree so she can save up to buy a house in her hometown soon.
“Maybe some people will learn from her videos to treat their maids better,” Bhagyashree says.
When Danish Sait Introduced Us To The Real Life Jaya
In May, comedian, Danish Sait, took to Instagram, a picture of him driving his domestic help, Geeta to his apartment complex with a caption that said, ‘Happy to have her back’. When Geeta had trouble finding transport, the actor decided to chauffeur her back and forth.
“My mother taught my sister and I to be respectful towards our help. Mother is a single parent, so, growing up, our maid was the only adult in the house besides her,” Danish tells the Economic Times.
Although there is a lot left to change in the classist attitudes our country has developed towards domestic workers in our households, the pandemic has definitely opened our eyes and has brought a small change in the mindset of the public.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)