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Taking the road to self-reliance

K.Lakshmi

A group of transgenders has set up mobile eatery at Vysarpadi

— Photo: V.Ganesan

Motivated: Bhanu, a transgender, doing business at her new mobile eatery at Kannigapuram, Vyasarpadi on Wednesday.

CHENNAI: It is one of those busy evening hours when fast food joints and mobile eateries do brisk business. Bhanu and her team are engaged in taking orders and supplying dishes to customers at Kannigapuram, Vyasarpadi.

A routine enough scene in Chennai; except that Bhanu and her team are transgenders who, until some time ago, had been begging for their living.

The group of four transgenders set up the mobile eatery in their neighbourhood since April, with help from the Lioness Clubs District 324 A5 and a city based non-governmental organisation - Madras Christian Council of Social Service.

“I was forced to beg for nearly six years in the area as no one was prepared to give me a job. When the social workers from MCCSS approached me with the alternative livelihood option, I readily accepted as I had experience in cooking. My mother, who lived separately for several years, is now with me, helping with the business,” said Bhanu who was all excited about the response from the local people.

Three more transgenders — Gayathri, Farida and Brinda — have also joined Bhanu in the new venture. “We can now lead a respectable life with our hard-earned money,” said Bhanu. The initiative was part of the baseline survey and fact finding project done under the aegis of Central Social Welfare Board to study the profile of transgenders living in slums of the city and also engage them in sustainable livelihoods.

P.Shakthidevi, a social worker with MCCSS and a transgender, said Bhanu and her team were provided with an assistance of Rs.10,000 to set up the fast food joint. “Several transgenders are still reluctant to take up other jobs as they earn about Rs.500-Rs.1,000 daily from begging. We identify such persons and counsel them about the alternative livelihood,” said Shakthidevi.

R.Isabel, executive secretary of MCCSS, said six more transgenders would be supported to start similar food joints and small shops at Chintadripet and Ice House in the next few days. Nearly 350 transgenders have been identified in the city for rehabilitation.

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