Emelie Rasendrasoa, a real fighter against COVID-19 despite her disability

Emelie Rasendrasoa, a real fighter against COVID-19 despite her disability

Solofonirina Claudia RAKOTOARISON
Emelie Rasendrasoa, une guerrière contre le COVID-19 malgré son handicap
UNICEF Madagascar/2020/Solofonirina Claudia RAKOTOARISON
18 September 2020

Antananarivo, 16 September, 2020. Being widowed and 49 years old, Emelie Rasendrasoa is paraplegic, having had her lower part completely paralyzed for a year now. The disability arose from a medical treatment through intramuscular injection. Without crutches, Emelie cannot move alone, she must be transported by her relatives. After having been affected by this disability, Emelie now lives with her son, her daughter-in-law and their child in Ambanidia, one of the popular districts of the capital.

Despite her paralysis, Emelie did not stop working to help meet the needs of her family. To earn her living, she works as a vegetable seller in a small market – 10 minutes’ walk from her neighbourhood. To get there every day, she is carried on the back of her son.

During the lockdown period during which movement was limited, Emelie and her family were struggling to earn money. “For us, the economic consequences were more fatal than the pandemic itself. I barely managed to make 5,000 Ariary a week; there were days when I sold at a loss to prevent the vegetables from rotting. There was a time, with my daughter-in-law, when we sold clothes to have some money to buy food,” says Emelie.

Emelie's family is among the beneficiaries of the "Tosika Fameno" cash transfer program – a program implemented by the Malagasy government – in response to operational emergencies since April 2020. The main objective is to support vulnerable households severely affected by lockdown measures.

When we met her in August, Emelie and her family just received their second allowance worth 100,000 Ariary. "We are particularly grateful for this social assistance", she tells us, "Our Tosika Fameno allowance was used to cover unpaid rent for two months, and we could even have a little left over to buy food, especially for my 1-year-old grandson. We are planning the same expenses for the second allocation.”

Despite the financial hardships the family faces, Emelie remains courageous and hopes for a better future. “When the health situation returns to normal, I plan to use the profits from my sale and return to the doctor. So, I’ll get my crutches repaired to allow me to move around independently again. That way, I could help my family more financially,” she concludes.

UNICEF supported 8,500 beneficiary households in the Antananarivo region through a cash transfer of 100,000 Ariary (US $ 26) per household. Currently, there are a total of 346,000 beneficiaries of the Tosika Fameno program in several cities affected by the Covid19 pandemic, including Antananarivo, Toamasina, Fianarantsoa, Moramanga, Ambatondrazaka, Fenerive Est, Manakara, Tuléar and Fort-Dauphin.