I am Chandana Mariapally and have been working with Bachpan Bachao Andolan since 2017. I have always been inspired by the action-oriented approach of the organization and have been working as a state coordinator in Telangana. In our sessions with Mr. Satyarthi, he always said, make sure children around you are safe and going to school. Our aim has always been to start change from our home, neighbor, and state; then, slowly the change would happen on a larger scale.
I always remembered these words of wisdom and the hummingbird story he shared during his Nobel Peace Prize speech. My hummingbird moment was with a person I knew from 8 years- Laxmamma (name changed) a tribal woman who had migrated with her 4 children from a village in Mahabubnagar district 10 years back. The reason to leave the comforts of her native village was to protect her two girls from child marriage and provide education to them. Her husband neglected the family, as he was an alcoholic.
She is now the bread winner for her family and makes jawari roti near my Bus stop. She earns 10 rupees for each roti, I knew her from past 8 years. We used to greet and smile at each other while passing by. 3 years back, she requested me to help her with admission of her children in a government hostel. Due to her alcoholic husband, she was worried it would affect her children’s well-being. I shared the contact details of a supervisor, whom I knew very well in Ministry of Women and Child (MWCD). The information worked and both children got admission in Girls Home. They both were doing well in their studies and I was in touch with the family since then.
On 17th April, I received a call from her elder son. His mother had collapsed and was also tested COIVD-19 positive. They failed to admit her in a hospital as there were no beds available. When I enquired with the kids they said she was suffering with cold, body pains and fever from past 1 week but neglected it, as usual.
I wanted to help and reached out to my network of friends in Telangana. I tried to get her a hospital bed in TIMS, Chest hospital and other private hospitals but they said there were no beds. As her condition was not stabilizing, we had to admit her in a private hospital. Doctor suggested shifting her to another hospital as the hospital didn’t have ventilator, but the bill for 2 days was 2.5 lakhs, it was very difficult for them to pay the bill.
Meanwhile, we were doing intensive follow up on Facebook, WhatsApp groups and finally with the support of old friends, we were able to get a bed in Gandhi Hospital. We immediately shifted her and now she is undergoing treatment. My teammate Mr. Venkateswarlu mobilized groceries from Arun Raj of GOD organization and we are going to send it to her family, as her husband has deserted them during this crisis. We hope for speedy recovery of Laxmamma and would keep checking on the children, so that they don’t feel vulnerable. I would request everyone who is reading my story to become supporting pillars for the families you know and be the hummingbird of hope for them.