People residing in the derelict parts of Maligawatta are daily wage workers who experience financial struggles regularly. But what does it feel like to be living in a slum during a pandemic? With no income and delivery services reluctant to enter a high-risk zone, their fates were sealed.
“Many families did not even have a morsel to go by for days. Crying children and parents desperately seeking food door to door due to crushing starvation was our new plight”, says Fairoos, 44, a fisherman residing here”. With many turning to him asking if there was anything they could buy, Fairoos decided to do something no matter the risks
“How can I sit back and watch?”, he asks. “We were battling with two enemies, the virus and hunger, and with the latter I could do something to help.” After careful consideration of the Covid-related risks, he decided to gain a permit to sell fish within his community. He wasn’t aware at the time that this will prove to be a crucial initiative.
Fairoos worked relentlessly, starting his day before the crack of dawn and selling fish in a makeshift fish stall he set up close to his house. He would sell without a profit and often give it away for free for desperate families. “I know the pangs of hunger. And I know very well the pain of these parents who helplessly watch their kids go hungry”, he remorsefully reflects. “This was the time to serve my people.” His actions were also an inspiration for others, who started setting up vegetable and fruit stalls within this settlement, making it easy for people to have access to food.
So why is it important to highlight Fairoos? His initiative should be voiced as his resolve of steel inspires us to have courage, to give and be compassionate, during extraordinary times.