Kochi: Kerala's economic hub is putting on a new look. As the Metro trains take to rails, the lives of women and transgender employees also advance with it.
Metro gave a chance to transgenders, who are often insulted and ostracized, to prove their skills. Twenty-three of them have been employed in different categories, raising hope that they will be spared from humiliations such as begging in the streets to make a living. It also inspires them to seek new opportunities.
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All 23 of them, on contract through Kudumbasree, are determined to prove that they will be able to work with honor.
On their interaction with other colleagues, Raga Ranjini says: “Initially they kept a distance, but later realized we're also like them.” The shine in her eyes is not just about hope.
“I will work hard, however much it is,” says Amy Mary. “I want to show that I am also capable of a decent life.” The pain of rejection reflected in her eyes. She complains that people in Kochi do not look at her and the others with decency. When she says it has not been possible to find a living space, the disappointment is evident.
Raga Ranjini says it's pretty hard to find accommodation and that their entire salary gets drained out lining in hotel rooms.
Some of them have lived in other states and insist it hasn't been that hard to find a living space. “I'm afraid I may be forced into the streets again without a shelter,” says Raga Ranjini. “In any case I won't give up this job.”
However, having been part of the new rail service and having traveled several times on trial runs, they are confident that Kochiites will accept them.
New face for Kudumbasree
Kochi Metro gifts a new face to Kudumbasree. KMRL has employed 780 Kudumbasree women on different jobs like ticketing, house-keeping, parking, gardening and customer care. The appointments are part of the organization's efforts at eradicating poverty and empowering women. Already 530 women have joined as the rail link opens between Aluva and Palarivattom.
Kudumbasree has taken care to include those who had become socially-backward due to several reasons. These include those evicted for the Metro, those with dependent families without a regular income, victims of domestic torture, widows. It's an achievement for Kudumbasree that these people have been assured of a regular income now.
From the edge of suicide
Geetha got her job at Metro Rail at a time when she had been widowed and left to take care of her little kids. It was a return from the edge of suicide. Her eyes light up when she says this job came like a dream, and that she doesn't have to seek anybody's mercy anymore.
Sarita finds relief
For Sarita, the Metro job came like the last hope after a life full of crises. The 33-year-old, tortured and divorced, was almost at the edge of being thrown into the streets with her 3-year-old child when Metro opened the door of hope. It brought her a new life, and an income to take care of her life.
Vijayakumari got a new life
Vijayakumari had lost her job at a private company where she had worked for eight years. She was 49 and her family was dependent on her, with the husband sick and in need of medicines. The family expenses and house rent all added up to her burdens. Metro gives her new hope that life will now hit the right track.
Manjusha finds hope
Manjusha is happy she can now lend a hand in the medical care of her autism-affected son. The housewife from Eroor had been spending time around the son's care and his special school.
Kudumbasree project manager R. Dilraj doesn't hide his pride when he says that Kudumbasree has proven it is not just an agency clearing waste. He sees the Metro as the changing face of Kudumbasree and asserts that jobs will be secure though they are on contract.