47-year-old Murugan has been running a corner shop in Kannagi Nagar here for the past one year making anywhere between Rs 300 to Rs 400 a day. But the Covid-19 lockdown turned his life upside down with none turning up at his shop to buy things leaving him and his family in penury
However, there is hope for Murugan. On Friday, he will be among the 23 physically challenged persons who will receive assistance from a textile major to sell face masks, face shields and other products that could save one from getting infected with Covid-19 on their three-wheelers.
This has been possible due to a partnership between Loyal Textiles Limited, Inclusion Beyond Abilities Trust (iBAT), which has been working the differently abled for the past 20 years, and Tamil Nadu Differently Abled Federation Charitable Trust, Chennai (TNDFCT) headed by Dr P Simmachandran.
“We get to hear wearing masks will be mandatory for at least another year and I hope to make some money everyday by selling masks. As my house is close to the IT corridor, I plan to park my vehicle on the main road and sell face masks. I am told the quality is good and I am sure people will buy. I am told I can make Rs 200 to Rs 300 a day in the form of commission by selling these masls,” Murugan told DH.
The three-wheelers of the beneficiaries will be fitted with umbrellas, boxes and show platforms to display face masks and shields for them to move around the city and sell the products, ensuring livelihood in times of Covid-19.
These mobile kiosks will sell masks and other products from the range of Rs 20 to Rs 90 and the company says the products are scientifically designed to deal with viral transmissions and have been tested and certified by reputed labs in India and abroad.
The initiative, which will be launched in Chennai on Friday by state minister Kadambur Raju in the presence of Loyal Textile Mills CEO A Velliangiri, will be expanded across Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Karnataka in the coming months.
“When I saw a post on Facebook by a senior member of the Loyal Textiles team that they were looking for distributors to sell their reasonably-priced masks, I thought why not use this opportunity to help differently-abled people. When I approached the company, they were more than happy to associate with the cause,” Lakshmi Ravishankar, Founder & Managing Trustee of IBAT, told DH.
Devadas Dhamodaraswamy, Chief Technology and Business Development Officer at Loyal Textile Mills Limited, said the programmee has been designed in a way that the differently-abled persons to take anywhere between Rs 200 to Rs 300 home every day by selling the masks.
“We have identified around 10 shops where the beneficiaries can collect the products in the morning and get their commissions at the end of the day. This way we thought we can ensure the livelihood of such people,” he told DH.
Lakshmi Ravishankar said the project of ensuring livelihood of differently abled persons will be expanded to Maharashtra, where 5,000 differently-abled persons have already registered with IBAT, and Karnataka very soon. “By this method, we are ensuring a source of regular income for the disabled. The prices of the products are also reasonable, and we hope this light up the lives of people who are in distress due to Covid-19 lockdown,” she said.