Tamil Nadu

Her touching gesture endears her to all

Priya Babu distributing essentials to the needy during the lockdown. Photo: Special Arrangement

Priya Babu distributing essentials to the needy during the lockdown. Photo: Special Arrangement  

When the lockdown first began, hundreds reached out to Priya Babu, head of the Transgender Resource Centre (TRC) in Madurai for help. Some called, some sent messages through their inter-connected networks and some others were recognised as ‘people in need’ by TRC volunteers.

What surprised her was that these callers were not transgender women alone. “Even until two years ago, we would only get calls of help from the transgender community. However, through the lockdown, we helped HIV positive women, single mothers, women in sex work, daily wage labourers and street vendors too. This is a huge and welcome attitudinal change,” she says.

Since March, Ms. Babu has mobilised funds and provided close to 7,500 kg of rice, basic provisions and other kitchen condiments worth lakhs. She has chosen to also create a package for women with sanitary napkins and masks. Several organisations including corporates have come forward to help, she says.

Until recently, Ms. Babu says that her community had to battle uncomfortable conversations and looks while distributing aid.

“In the past years too, there have been occasions when people have been in need. During those times, we have gone out for distribution of aid but never twice to the same area. People have looked at us differently and caused some hostility. This time though, we have finished providing aid for 750 transwomen and women twice. We see this as an important moment. The acceptance has been overwhelming,” she says.

Ms. Babu says that volunteers from the Transgender Resource Centre have not just focussed on Madurai city but have also travelled to villages where small pockets of transgender people live including villages in Alanganallur, Sholavandhan and Tirupparankundram blocks.

Apart from distributing food packages, Ms. Babu says that volunteers have procured phone numbers to follow up on their mental well-being. “We have a small team that calls these women regularly just to speak to them. Sometimes, they just want to pour out their grief due to the lack of income. We believe that listening helps them,” she says.

Ms. Babu hopes that kindness remains and empathy increases in the future. For now though, she says she is happy with the acceptance and trust. “I am called ‘Amma’ and ‘Madam’ now,” she says.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 4:22:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/her-touching-gesture-endears-her-to-all/article31834170.ece

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