Suneshvari Devi is a 74-year-old woman who lives in Mayapuri slum. She hails from a small village in Bihar and has been living in Delhi for the past 25 years. Suneshvari has lived a difficult life, filled with despair and sorrow.
Suneshvari was born in the late 1940s to farmless farmers. She had 8 other siblings and there was always a shortage of food at home. Suneshvari was married off at the tender age of 12. Her husband was 16 years old. ‘’We led a simple life and I worked alongside my husband in the farms’’, says Suneshvari with a smile. Soon, she was blessed with 3 children, 2 daughters, and 1 son. Unfortunately, fate had other plans. Her young daughters started falling ill. She took them to the local village doctor, who gave a wrong diagnosis and medicines. By the time they were taken to the government hospital in the city, it was too late. Her young daughters aged 6-10 passed away diagnosed with acute leukemia.
As the years passed away, Suryavanshi’s son grew up to be a healthy young man. At the age of 20, his marriage was arranged. This joyous occasion was soon overshadowed by the sudden death of Suryavanshi’s husband. Distraught and helpless, Suryavanshi decided to leave for New Delhi with her son and his wife. In 1995, Suryavanshi and her family came to Delhi and settled down in Mayapuri slum. Her young son took up multiple odd jobs to survive on. He earned a minimum amount in the initial years and life was difficult. Over the years, he kept saving, this enabled him to open his vegetable selling stall. Life became a little stable for the family and Suryavanshi became a grandmother to 3 children.
However, their happiness did not last long. In 2019 her daughter-in-law suddenly suffered a paralysis which left her right hand paralyzed. The cost of treatment spent all of the family’s little savings and it was ineffective. Her son and daughter-in-law decided to return to their village for further treatment leaving Suryavanshi alone to take care of their children. When the lockdown came into effect suddenly, it took some days for old Suryavanshi to realise the effect it would have on her family. The little money her son sent each month via money order by post came to a stop. She was helpless and started asking her neighbours for help to feed her grandchildren.
At the same time, Asha had devised an emergency response plan that came into effect within a few days of the lockdown. The Asha field team heard of Suryavanshi’s condition and came to help immediately providing her with financial aid. With this money, she was able to purchase groceries that would last an entire month for her family.
Currently, Asha continues to work for the needy and poor amongst the Asha slums. The poorest are being provided with continuous financial aid, groceries, medicines, and sanitation products to make their lives a little easier during this pandemic.