Usually, Raji would need to be offered a reward to get her to do something. She likes collecting currency notes, so her mother would offer money. That day, however, she said she didn’t want money for what she was doing. Raji excitedly and uncomplainingly stitched more than a thousand masks with the help of her mother, to give health workers and policemen working day and night to fight the dreaded COVID-19 in Kerala.
On Thursday, Health Minister KK Shailaja wrote about 30-year-old Raji Radhakrishnan, a woman with intellectual disability, who has ‘overcome the challenges’ and is ‘joining the fight against Covid19 in the state’.
“She was lazy to go to her special school but in November last year, when she went for a few days, Raji learned how to stitch,” says Prabha Unni, Raji’s mother who runs a nonprofit organisation called Mother Queen Foundation in Thiruvananthapuram, for people with disability.
“I have seen the worries of mothers like me and I wanted to do something for children like ours. We have been running the organisation for six years now, providing food kits to 20 to 40 families that’d cover them for a whole month, helping out at hospitals and so on. When the coronavirus scare began to spread and people were staying at home, I began taking these food kits to their home. I’d take an autorickshaw and go around. When my money ran out and I could do that no more, I began making masks. Raji joined in, stitching both the sides and letting me put the strings on it,” Prabha says.
It was when she took some masks to a councillor at the Corporation that Prabha was suddenly taken to see Health Minister Shailaja, and she took Raji along with her. “It was my birthday and it was such a wonderful present to be able to see Minister Shailaja, who is an inspiration to all women. She listens so attentively to you and is so calm. Raji was also very happy about the occasion,” Prabha adds.