According to the consensus of 2011, 2.2% of the population is disabled in some way or form. It’s apparent that on a regular day, disability and accessibility aren’t taken as seriously as other issues. What happens when a global crisis occurs? What happens when a pandemic hits the world? What happens when your country goes into lockdown? This is my story of how I was almost left stranded without a caretaker during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On March 22, 2020, when the prime minister announced that the whole country would be going into lockdown for 21 days, my emotions were all over the place. I was happy that our country was doing its best to flatten the curve, but I was also extremely scared. I live alone in Mumbai, I am quite independent, but I require a maid to do things like cooking and other physiological care, I also require my driver to get groceries and other essentials.
The thought of not having her around for 21 days scared me the most! I kept wondering how I would get things done around the house and how I would survive. I kept trying to find an answer online, but I found nothing. That’s when I decided to go to Twitter and tweet about my worry.
I’m disabled and I live alone, I need my maid who cooks and does other physiological care for me. Due to the virus, she won’t be able to come. What do we do about these situations? @MumbaiPolice @MoHFW_INDIA #CoronavirusLockdown
— Virali Modi (@Virali01) March 24, 2020
Surprisingly, the tweet went viral! I was then contacted by an MP from Aurangabad, Dr Bhagwat Karad, who took my information and got me the API’s number that was from my area. I spoke to the API almost immediately, and he assured me that everything would be taken care of for my maid and my driver. He told me to call him if I had any problems whatsoever. The next morning, I got a call from an officer from my nearest police station. She was basically reiterating the same thing.
My maid or driver didn’t have any problems coming to my house. As soon as my driver arrived, I got a call from the DCP of Mumbai, again assuring that everything would be taken care of. He also mentioned that some police inspectors would be coming to my place to get some basic information. As soon as I hung up the phone, within 10 seconds, there were three police inspectors at my door.
They made their way inside and took all my information, my driver’s, and my maid’s as well. They took my driver to the police station and gave him a curfew pass, which basically means that if anyone catches them while they’re coming to or going from my place, with this pass, they’ll be free to go.
I’ve realised that I was offered help because I have access to Twitter and WiFi. I realised that I’m privileged enough to have gotten as much as I did. My tweet brought so much clarity to me because I realised that there are so many persons with disability and elderly individuals who are living alone and require the assistance of their caretaker. Due to the lockdown, their caretakers are not able to leave their respected homes, effectively leaving the disabled and elderly stranded.
I’m grateful that my tweet went viral—because so many people got in touch with me, explaining the difficulties they have, concerns from children about their elderly parents, PWDs frightened about how they would do their daily tasks without their help. The stories brought tears to my eyes. This needed to be changed immediately.
To combat this issue and bring some clarity, Dr Bhagwat Karad, activists, lawyers, and I are petitioning the government and urging them to create government ID cards for all caretakers for those who are disabled and/or elderly and are living alone, so they can easily travel to the individual’s homes.
Please sign this petition to help those in need and please share, so we can end #DisabilityOnLockdown