The COVID-19 pandemic has left marginalised communities such as transgenders and sex workers in desperate need of basic help like daily food and water. Delhi-based-NGO, Wishes and Blessings, founded by Dr Geetanjali Chopra, came forward to support such communities.
In Indian tradition, the blessing of a kinnar is considered auspicious. “Before COVID, these transgender community people were invited to marriages and functions to shower their blessings. This is how they earned their regular living. Now, COVID made things drastically slip away from the hands of these communities,” says Barkha Hazarika, of Wishes and Blessings.
“Also, these days people are not celebrating festivals in a grand way, like in the old days. For sex workers, earlier they would get a meagre sum of around Rs 100-500, but due to this pandemic, there are hardly any customers visiting them,” says Barkha.
600 people were fed in the very first weekend of lockdown, thanks to Wishes and Blessings.
Eventually, more than 12,000 people were added to the food program, as the NGO expanded to across eight states of the country, including Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, and West Bengal.
In August, another relief drive distributed ration kits to 100 families of transgenders and 100 sex workers.
However, as the number of communities to help is constantly on the rise, and the relief drives get more vast, the Wishes and Blessings team are finding it difficult to raise more funds.
“Earlier, every time we used to do a drive, it cost Rs 2-3 lakhs, and we raised that in minutes by sharing our activities in various social media groups.”
“Today, raising even Rs 50,000 was difficult, but what needs to be done is to be done. We also approached donors for contributions. Once the drive starts, we are very transparent by sharing every info about it.”
On being asked about the reaction she got when helped the marginalised communities, Dr Geetanjali Chopra said, “It was a very overwhelming drive and the experience was unique. Some would cry, some would dance. So, on the whole, our activity was a moving and fulfilling experience.”
The founder also shared the organisation’s future plans saying, “We were in the midst of designing a program which will be launched shortly, where we’ll be distributing cooked meal to the underprivileged people”.
“COVID made us learn a lot. In the future, we’ll try and continue educating kids, expand to newer beneficiaries, and more commercial sex workers joining the Wishers and Blessings family.”
All the images sourced with permission from the Media Outreach Officer of Wishes and Blessings (Barkha Hazarika).