December 24, 2015
Anjali Ajeeth’s formal introduction to philanthropy took place in 2005, when she became part of the family-run group Hum Log, where all members contributed a set amount every month for charity.
A year later, social worker Samuel and his wife Sneha of Sevalayam came up to her with a specific request. “Samuel said that some transgenders needed Rs.20,000 to buy costumes. It seemed a fair enough request and we gave it immediately. The next day, he came back saying they want to thank you. I said there was no need for such formalities. But he insisted I honour their request. And so, I set out to meet them in Thudiyalur,” recalls Anjali.
She was scared during her first meeting. “I went with two drivers and told myself I would stay for just five minutes and get back. I was there for two hours! They were such a lovely bunch of people. They told me they wanted to thank me, because the money stopped four of them from entering the sex trade. Then on, we bonded as human beings, without any prejudice or any divide.”
The visits became frequent, and Anjali was witness to the trauma they went through. She had formed close friendships with some of them too. “They have sad childhoods and violent lives once they come out of the closet. They are pushed into the sex trade, abused… when all they wanted is to be accepted as women,” she adds.
Anjali joined hands with other interested people to rehabilitate transgenders. She tries her best to set them up in businesses so that they never have to sell their bodies. “Everyone blames us, my transgender friends say. No one raises a finger against the men who solicit us. That’s such injustice.”
Anjali says some people come with severe physical scars, including loss of vision, due to violence meted out to them. “I’m just glad I am part of a family that’s very generous. Thanks to them, I am able to step out and integrate myself into the lives of people who need our support. But more than me, all credit must go to Samuel.
He’s a Kargil hero. He sold his wife’s jewellery to look after underprivileged kids. He’s the one who motivates us to give. And, they need such small favours. We must help,” says Anjali, adding: “Tasneem, a transgender, is my best friend and I’ve learnt so much about living and giving from her.”