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Women sweepers take a break from work to exercise, meditate

Published On : 25 Apr 2017   |  Reported By : Courtesy: The Hindu   |  Pic On: photo credit: The Hindu

Mumbai (The Hindu): This was the first day in a while that Ramila Boricha (40) had some free time. Usually, she wakes up at four in the morning, and does the housework: filling up water, washing the clothes, and more. At 6 a.m., she leaves her home in Chinchpokli for Matunga and reports for duty as a conservancy worker at 6.30 a.m. Her work goes on till 2 p.m.. She rests for two hours and then she has more housework to do.

But on Monday, she spent the morning doing yoga and meditating. “It’s nice to have some time off,” she said.

Ms. Boricha was taking part in a two-day wellness workshop for women sweepers organised by Divyaj Foundation and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Monday and Tuesday.

Sessions will also include awareness sessions on child and family care, financial literacy, de-addiction and women’s rights, as well as on health and well-being for the 500 participants.

One of the main reasons that yoga and meditation took centre stage at the workshop, organisers said, was because sweepers have to work with their backs bent, and they work long hours, neglecting their health.

“We wanted to draw attention to the need for well-being, and hopefully give the participants tips they can use in their lives,” said Shubha Shetty, who supervised the yoga session.

“For work like ours, yoga is especially important, since our health is always a worry,” said Deepika Sosa (28), another participant.

Ms. Boricha, though, is not sure whether she will be able to perform the asanas she has learnt every day — she does not have the time. “I do want to practise this, since I felt so much healthier after half an hour of practising today. But I don’t have any free time, and besides, my family wouldn’t let me do things like this. They’ll ask, ‘what do you think you’re doing?’ I usually watch it on TV. Only these two days, I will get time. Otherwise, I doubt it,” she said.

Ms. Sosa has learnt de-stressing exercises that will help in her work, but she hopes not to be doing this work for much longer.

“I have been working as a sweeper for eleven years, since I finished Class XII. My mother took over my father’s sweeper job after his demise, and when she grew too old for it, I took over,” Ms. Sosa says.

She has been studying for exams that will qualify her for semi-clerical posts in municipal departments. “I can’t promise anything yet, because I don’t know how well I will do, but I am excited to find out,” she said.


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