Friday, September 25, 2009

Indian polio survivors find their bliss as fishermen

From Express India:

THOOTHUKUDI, India -- Thommal Antony Siluvai alias Selvam (27) and Nelson (27) of Vembar coastal village in Thoothukudi, are no ordinary fishermen. Both of them have been afflicted by polio.

Hailing from fishermen families, they automatically took to fishing as their livelihood. After the death of Selvam’s father, he was entrusted with the responsibility of bringing up his five sisters and a brother.

During the initial stages, Selvam went for fishing as a wage-earner and received only Rs 30 per day. Annoyed with his dependence on others, Selvam took up squid fishing.

Dropped at mid-sea in a buoy Selvam fishes alone. Now, for the past seven years, he has been engaged in squid fishing and earns substantially, paying just Rs 35 as charges for being taken and dropped at mid-sea.

Nelson (pictured) too is engaged in squid fishing, is married and has a nine-month old baby. Like Selvam, he also was employed as a daily wage earner initially and later took up squid fishing.

When an NGO conducted a post-tsunami study, both the physically challenged fishermen did not demand any financial assistance but asked for a life jacket, which was later provided.

“At the most, I can continue fishing till the age of 35 years and I want to switch over to another job before it is too late”, said Selvam, who has passed SSLC. Nelson, who has passed his higher secondary course too looks for an alternative employment.