The COVID-19 pandemic-induced crisis has turned a new chapter in the lives of as many as 32 pavement dwellers as they have landed in better jobs to lead a respectful life in Erode district.
After preparing the hot piping tea, Venkatraman used to set out in his cycle around 11 AM. “I sell not less than 25 cups each priced Rs five in an hour’s time. And in the evening another 25 cups of tea get sold out. I earn around Rs 200 per day and I am content with it,” he said.
A native of Namakkal district, family issues drove Venkatraman out of his house and seek asylum near Ukkadam bus stand in Coimbatore for about three years. He then moved to Erode a year ago, but his way of life never changed as he continued to spend money got through alms and by doing odd jobs in consuming liquor.
“I had quit drinking now and have vowed not to touch liquor again. Upon knowing my personal transformation, my family members who so far disliked me, have begun to call up and speak with love and care,” he said.
Not just him, but sharing a similar story is two other street dwellers Sharathy (51) and Radhakrishnan (50), who now sell hot snacks like ‘bajji’ and ‘bonda’ in a push cart earning upto Rs 1,200 per day. They too were into odd jobs and were staying along road side, until before rehabilitation.
They all were part of 32 persons, whose lives have transformed due to the joint efforts of Erode Corporation and Atchayam Trust, an NGO. One among them had become a flower trader, some took up work as security guard, while six others had joined in a poultry farm and few others turned into cooks and helpers in hotels.
It was indeed a proud moment for them as they received placement orders from Erode Corporation Commissioner M Elangovan.
“Post lockdown, a total of 83 persons, who were into begging, and homeless people staying in bus stands, railway station, in front of government hospital and along road sides were rescued and sheltered in a corporation school. Most of them had been separated from their families and were severe alcoholics. But now they have left behind their disturbing past to transform into better human beings due to counselling by experts. I am hopeful that others in the shelter will also get into better jobs and lead a dignified life,” said P Naveen Kumar, founder of Atchayam Trust.