People cheered when P Viji of Kozhikode, a tailor-turned-social activist, was listed on BBC’s 100 Women 2018. Few around her knew that Viji, hailed and honoured, didn’t have a house of her own. The family – which includes her teen children – moved from house to house, on rent. Wings of Kerala, a Kozhikode-based registered organisation working for women, decided that they’d build a house for Viji.
“When a woman living on the streets has done so much work for the upliftment of others that she got listed by the BBC, we should at least do so much for her,” says Deepa PM, chairperson of Wings of Kerala. Viji’s work done through Penkootu, an association fighting for women’s right, has been much written about. She spearheaded the campaign to build toilets for women on the street, another for the rights of saleswomen to sit for a while in between their work, and also for increasing the minimum wages of the Community Organisers of Kudumbashree, and so on.
“All her work has been selfless. I have worked closely with her, and understood it. She’d often get mementoes for the work she does, but she’d leave them in one house or another, for she keeps shifting. When some of us got together and thought of what we could give her, we all agreed it has to be a house she could call her own. We had approached the Kozhikode Corporation about building a house for her. But they said she would need land of her own. So, we are now collecting money to buy her a piece of land. A message on our Whatsapp group has already brought a lot of contributions. But we still need more,” says Deepa.
The land identified now is near Palazhi in Kozhikode. Deepa reckons that Viji needs to be around Kozhikode for her to continue her work. Viji still does her tailoring work. “She is not all that well and there is so much work to do. She’d usually reject charity. But when we said we are doing this, understanding her politics, she said she’d be happy to receive our gift,” Deepa adds.
For those who’d like to contribute, the bank account details are below:
Account Number: 1144101042090
Bank: Canara Bank, Chalappuram
IFSC Code: CNRB0001144