The fisherman’s living in Vizhinjam, are the most marginalized group in Kerala. Vizhinjam village comprises of five wards and Fishing is their main source of livelihood. Fishing is a seasonal trade and therefore the income is not regular. With the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19, the livelihood of these people is greatly affected, as they can no longer go out, nor do they have any other means to support themselves during these hard times.
Kottappuram, one of HelpAge India’s Mobile Healthcare Unit (MHU) site, is almost deserted, empty harbours and landing centers, empty streets, which was once a bustling town with constant movement an activity going on. Due to social distancing, a few fisher women are allowed to buy fishes from the fishermen and sell it in the market. People are afraid to come out and buy fishes, thereby reducing the income of these fishermen and women who are trying hard to survive and make ends meet.
These fishermen and their families are severely affected by the lockdown, as they are not able to earn and most of them could only manage one meal a day. Besides income loss, the lockdown has affected the renovation and construction works and repayment of loans.
HelpAge is reaching out to these elders and their community and providing them with free medicines. One of the beneficiary questioned “you are taking care of our health but what about food? The grains provided by the government is soon going to be over and then we don’t know what we will do” The Vizhinjam is one of the many villages, that are the silent sufferers of this lockdown.
HelpAge India, Mobile Healthcare Unit has been visiting the village during the lockdown, distributing medicines through volunteers and health workers. Ms. Nirmala, of HelpAge’s beneficiary at New Church Site said “I don’t have any job and my husband Michealis the sole earner of the family.we have no savings and fishing is our only means of survival. Due to lockdown, he can’t go out and therefore we don’t have any income or support to survive. We can’t even ask for money as no one has it. We knew about COVID-19 Affecting other parts of the world, but never expected that we will be caught up in this. The government has provided us with ration, but that to will finish after few days and then we don’t know what we will do”. She stopped midway and took a deep breath. Tears welled up in her eyes and it was hard for her to go on. The agony she felt was clearly visible in her silence.
Another beneficiary, Dasan, was very happy on receiving the Protective Hygiene Kits, distributed by HelpAge India,which include Sanitizers, Mask, Tissues, Handwash etc.as most elders cannot afford them and they are not that readily available in the local markets, but she is worried about the food grain shortage in her house. This is the case for the entire village, people have lost their livelihood and have no other means to earn a living, and due to the lockdown, everything is shut down. Having a one-time meal is becoming difficult. HelpAge India is reaching out to the elders who are suffering from chronic ailments and delivering the much needed medications to them.