Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
As India battles the coronavirus pandemic, several activities to acknowledge and express gratitude towards the frontline healthcare staff, police officers, and teachers were initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, the crucial role played by the sanitation workers, security guards, delivery agents, and others involved in providing essential services took a backseat in the public eye. These corona warriors had been on-duty with no 'work from home' option.
41-year-old K Eesar Amma, a sweeper at Jeypore Municipality in Odisha's Koraput district has been dedicatedly working as a sanitation worker for the past eight years.
Widowed at an early age, she has been the breadwinner in her family. According to reports, she used to clean verandahs of shops to make a living until she was engaged by the municipality authorities to clean streets for a fixed pay.
With the onset of the pandemic, Eesar Amma was given additional responsibilities to clean the temporary medical centres (TMCs) near the COVID-19 hospital. For three months, she was in charge of cleaning the premises of the TMC which was later converted to a proper COVID Care Centre (CCC).
With an increase in the waste generated during the coronavirus outbreak, including masks, gloves, and other medical waste, the situation was getting overwhelming for her yet she took the brave decision to continue working despite the health-related concerns.
"There's anxiety, of course. It seems like a sudden switch to a different world. People are falling sick. Many are dying. But I have been working here for almost a decade. How can I just leave? It's my job and I prefer to do it with integrity," the corona warrior told The New Indian Express.
On being asked why she took up the job amid the virus outbreak, risking her life, she said: "What's more life-threatening than hunger and poverty? I have seen worse days. This job has given me a decent life and I am grateful for it. I am part of the system and if asked to do a particular work, it is my duty to do it."
The most striking aspect of this iron-willed worker is that she has been continuing to work even though her dues have not been paid yet. Neither the absence of wages nor the fear of coronavirus infection could deter her from fulfilling her duty. Eesar Amma said that she and her family members had been following the COVID-19 precautions. Masks, gloves, and washing hands at regular intervals have been strictly followed.
"To survive, we must do whatever we can and do it with honesty," she added.
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