Before COVID-19 descended on the City, 36-year-old physically-challenged Shanthi would tirelessly pedal her sewing machine through the day to create perfectly-fitting clothes. Now, she has turned into a COVID-19 hero, quietly visiting one household after another to check on residents every single day. “From checking temperature to knowing if anyone has blood pressure, we ensure the checking is thorough. So far, I covered nearly 200-250 houses,” she says.

Like Shanthi, a group of physically-challenged women in the City are now contract workers from the Greater Chennai Corporation. Unmindful of the heat and fatigue, Shanthi spends nearly 5-6 hours checking on residents. “There are some who may hesitate to share their symptoms but I casually persuade them to do so. It is important that they get tested at the right time,” she adds.

Kavitha Nagarajan, 34, was a busy wedding album designer till few months ago. “I work as a field supervisor and visit one area a day along with a worker to monitor their work. We don’t stop with just one visit, we keep visiting them regularly to see if anyone in a household has developed any problem; it is a routine. This is tough yet I will continue to do it because, this way, I have an opportunity to serve the people. I think every little attempt to help the society counts,” she adds.

There are various challenges these workers encounter — from uncooperative residents to exhaustion — yet they go about their work religiously.

R. Manimegalai, a 28-year-old physically challenged person, finished her teacher training and grabbed this opportunity to render service to the public. “I do surprise checks to see if the workers are accurately taking data from residents and ensure they aren’t missing anything. I feel content and satisfied doing such a job during this crisis. I consider this work sacred and do it with all sincerity,” she adds.

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