Wheelchair user Raheem is amongst those who lost a livelihood due to a pandemic & lockdown
Raheem is a wheelchair user from Trivandrum in Kerala who is one amongst those affected adversely by the pandemic and lockdown. He used to sell paper pens and umbrellas. Now, Raheem does not have the market and is looking out for ways to sustain himself and his family. Raheem’s is not an isolated story. There are thousands of disabled people struggling for a livelihood amidst the pandemic.
An accident and then a lifelong disability, Raheem is now struggling to make ends meet. This 49-years-old wheelchair user who hails from Trivandrum in Kerala makes eco-friendly paper pens and umbrellas for a living. But the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has affected his work. According to Raheem, there are hundreds of small entrepreneurs in Kerala who are working on different ways to sustain during these tough times. Raheems’s story is not the only one.
An accident and disability
Raheem wanted to give his family the best. So he moved to the gulf to work and earn money to send it back home. In the year 1994, on his way to work along with three other colleagues, Raheem’s car met with an accident. Except Raheem, all the others died. Raheem had a spinal cord injury due to which he had to start using the wheelchair. Raheem returned back to Kerala after the accident.
Life was not easy after that. During those years, since there were no awareness about disabilities, Raheem did not know for how long he will have to use a wheelchair. He was bed-ridden for over four years and then finally managed to sit up. In between, he spent a lot of money on different types of treatment hoping for best results. Raheem is now a wheelchair user for the past 22 years.
“I had a lot of hope on treatments. I believed that I would be able to lead a normal life after that. Gradually, I realized this is a life-long condition and accepted it. Those were tough days because I had to cope up with my new condition”, remembers Raheem.
But his wife, mother and sister stood beside as rock solid support. Even today, they are the ones who make Raheem’s life fruitful.
Looking at the brighter side of life
After all that he went through, Raheem did not want to back out. He wanted to find ways to support himself and his family. That is how he started making umbrellas four years back. It earned him a decent income. After two years, he started making eco-friendly paper pens. Users can throw away the pen after use and the seed that is put inside the pen will grow into a plant.
An active member of Kerala NGO All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF), Raheem learnt to make these from other wheelchair users.
“Due to the lockdown, I have not been able to sell my products. Most of the customers are teachers and students who use umbrellas during monsoon and paper pens for school. Over 3000 pens that I made are yet to be sold though some kind-hearted people are helping me. There are hundreds of unsold umbrellas too. I’am searching in the dark for answers. I do not know how to support my family”, says an anxious Raheem.
He further adds, “In life, I don’t have too many options to earn a living and my family depends on me. I really hope more people will buy my products and I can assure them the best quality. By buying my products, you are protecting the environment as well because they are eco-friendly”, says Raheem who uses social media platforms to sell his products.
You can contact Raheem at +91 70345-00484.
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