Livelihood – The biggest concern

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ever since I met that tailor who had lost both his sewing machines to the floods, I have had this sinking feeling that the so called good work that we are doing of distributing household articles is not going far to strike at the fundamental tragedy. What is the tailors wife going to cook in those utensils if the tailor does not get back to his earning ways. What use are the notebooks for the children if they cant go to schools. Schools by the way are the biggest sink after hospitals for the poor people’s hard earned money. Somebody the other day was surprised that a single women was surviving on Rs1500. Chinnathambi of Adambakkam pays Rs3000 as children’s fees for his two kid’s in class 3 and class 1 out of a monthly income of Rs.6500.He and his wife and his two children and his brother’s sister and her two children make do with the remaining money.

The loss of livelihood for our poor majority of whom are necessity entrepreneurs in the unorganized sector is a huge setback. After surviving the floods and being taken care of for a few days by media attention and good Samaritans who is going to help keep the wolves out of the door. How frustrating can it be if I cant do and earn from the only thing I know well to do because the floods snatched away my essential tools – my sewing machine, my auto, my two wheeler, my tools, my vessels in which I make idlis and sell by the road side, my vending cartwheel , my irons, my shelves in my shop, my stock of beads which I used to sell as necklaces on the road side,my cobblers tools, etc.

When I met Anjali of Mandala Apparels in Pondicherry, a couple of days back, she offered me 500 metres of fabrics free. It was a godsend. I had been thinking of asking that tailor ( and others like him) to stitch and supply me 200 women’s night dresses worn during the day in India ( nighties, as we like to call them) so that I can give this to deserving flood victims instead of buying them as we are doing now. I am excited at meeting the tailor to tell him about this. I have never been as apprehensive as now as to what his reaction would be. I only hope this clicks. I can then come up with a new slogan for all good people who came forward with money and materials during the dark days. DONATE LIVELIHOODS, in the form of orders, raw materials, tools and equipment,information, innovative ideas,techniques, markets, whatever. Most of us have heard ‘Train a person to catch fish, instead of giving a fish. These guys already know to catch fish, they are very skilled. Give them opportunities, that’s all they want.

Give them a break.

– Dr. L.N.Rajaram


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