Coronavirus-news December 17, 2020
Disabled Kerala man who makes paper pens barely able to make ends meet during pandemic
Raju, a wheelchair user from Kerala was paralyzed after a typhoid attack at a young age. Disabled for over 36 years now, Raju used to make paper pens and umbrellas for a living. But his source of income has been affected due to the pandemic and lockdown. Raju is now barely able to make ends meet.
Affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown are lakhs of disabled people from across India. 59-year-old Raju, a wheelchair user from Thrissur in Kerala is amongst them. Raju is unable to move from his bed since he is paralyzed. His main source of income was making paper pens and umbrellas. His clients included students, teachers and professionals. Now that schools are shut and offices remain closed, Raju is struggling to make ends meet.
An unexpected disability
It was at the age of 24 when Raju, who hails from a small town called Chelakkara had a typhoid attack. He was working in Mumbai during that time as an air conditioner mechanic. His dreams of making money to support the family and living life to the fullest were cut short. A fever which he ignored made things worse for him and Raju was diagnosed with typhoid, but it was too late. His body was already paralyzed.
Raju has been using a wheelchair since then to move around. He came back to his hometown and was taken care of by his mother. But after death of his brothers, his mother emotionally broke down. In order to support the family, Raju decided to get married to Ponnamma. But love bloomed after marriage and the couple are together through thick and thin.
Raju, who never wants to step backwards, believes in looking at the positive side of things. In spite of his many financial crunches and physical limitations, this spirit is what keeps him going.
Struggling through the pandemic
Raju worked as a radio mechanic, repairing radios for people in the neighborhood for a while. But that job wasn’t fetching him a source of income to support the family. He also had cataract in his eyes by then and was unable to see anything clearly. “People around used to help me get through every month though the money I earned was meagre. But how can someone make money by repairing radios lying on the bed?”, he asks.
That is when Raju decided to switch over to making washing powders, cleaning lotions and detergents. Since the past three years, he started making umbrellas and eco-friendly paper pens. “Only the refill is plastic. So when the user throws away the pen, a seed attached to it will bloom into a plant. There is an urgent need to protect our environment and I’am also doing my bit”, says Raju.
Due to the lockdown, he is unable to sell his products as there are very few takers. He gets support through WhatsApp groups where other disabled people also make similar products.
“I do not want to stay upset thinking about what I do not have because of my disability. I’am unable to move out or do things on my own, but I’am also determined to make the best out of life”, he says.
You can contact Raju at +91 98476-27510.
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