Dumped By Family At 13, Taslima Nasreen Is Beacon Of Hope For Transgenders

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Breaking stereotypes involves courage, determination, and firm stand against pessimism, especially when it comes to age-old societal beliefs on gender. For ages, the transgender community has struggled to live a dignified life. Taslima Nasreen, a transgender woman, has broken all norms to come up with a unique initiative of starting a food catering business entirely by the transgender community. Her startup “Halal catering” is a massive hit in Tamilnadu and Kerala with their tongue-tingling dishes. 

She has also trained six other teams of transgender women for catering and helped them start their own food catering business. Even you can experience their esteemed service on your good days at home. It can help them in a lot many ways, most importantly, to live a dignified life. 

Hailing from Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, Taslima Nasreen had a very different story to share. Belonging to an affluent family, Taslima enjoyed her childhood to the core with every comfort one can imagine. However, the dark days arrived when Taslima turned 13. 

“I wasn’t someone I wanted to be. I was terrified. My family didn’t accept me as I am, and finally, they abandoned me. I spent days at Tirupur bus stand, haunted by loneliness and falling into the clutches of hunger, I decided to commit suicide. I got rescued by some transgender people at a park in Tirupur.”

As she didn’t want her family to identify her anymore in the town, she moved to Bangalore. After undergoing sex surgery there, she searched for jobs but found it difficult to find one. She begged at traffic signals. To make the situation worse, she was diagnosed with severe jaundice. Trying out every hospital there, she realized that there are no proper treatment facilities for transgenders. Somehow Taslima managed to get treated at a government hospital in Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu.

Getting her life back again, she took a bus to Chennai. Through some menial jobs, she managed to earn a paltry sum. For the first time, she decided to unveil her womanhood, in an eagerness to buy a nose-pin for herself. As soon as she entered the shop, the owner found it very strange to allow her. She was ashamed, ill-treated and not allowed to step inside. That is when a woman shopping nearby shared her kind gesture by consoling and enquiring about Taslima’s work and livelihood. Later the lady was identified to be Anjali, one of the heads of “Mahaveer Trust”. 

With Anjali’s help, Taslima began to volunteer for an NGO ‘Small Difference’ to take care of patients who were abandoned by families at the CMCH. At NGO, she worked as a cook. She started cooking chicken and mutton biryani in many functions. 

Years after, these experiences helped her with the idea of starting “Change trust” with the aid from Rotary club.

Training Other Transgender Women

Being a victim of discrimination herself, she is striving hard to ensure a safe and dignified life for all transgenders. Taslima personally has trained over fifty transgender women in cooking, thereby paving the way for their independence. Through Change trust she has also taught Computer training, Jewel making sessions and tailoring to transwomen.

She has also organised Swachh Bharat – tree plantation drives, cleaning campaigns [esp in hospitals]. Motivated by her words, a large number of college students, along with their families also participate in the activities.

Tribal welfare

Taaslima with her team has built a school in a remote tribal village in Coimbatore. As this village is not easily accessible by any means, people were deprived of their basic needs. Building a school in such a far off location has helped the kids of the village.

Hospital welfare schemes

Taslima and her team have mobilized people for blood donation, organised cleaning camps at the hospital premises, arranged ambulance service for remote tribal areas.

She adopted two boys from the hospital where she used to work as the parents of the children couldn’t bear the cost of raising a child. Adding to this, she is also taking care of two elder women [One of them aged 103] at her home. Beaming with utmost pride, she calls four of them “her lifelines”. Considering the transformation of lives she sweats for, Taaslima is making sure the four of them are never deprived of anything!!

As transgenders, they are blessed to experience the soul and spirit of being both their peers. Its high time for society to change its perspective towards them. “Love and respect” is all that they seek!!

Taslima has been recognised at various forums for her work

  1. First transgender Swatch Bharath ambassador of India.[In turn for accepting the responsibility, she requested the officials to employ ten transgenders in city corporation roles every year. Result of this, Today more than fifty transgenders are working at various levels in city limits.
  2. Leading educational institute in Coimbatore recognised her as “IC(A)N of Coimbatore.”
  3. One of the 12 heroes from Coimbatore, recognised by Times of India.
  4. Unsung hero award by ICC (The Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry)

Reach out to Taslima Nasreen at : 9787345432

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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