Brihannala brings transgenders to the frontline to deliver emergency service in coronavirus crisis

Members of the socially marginalised Hijra or transgender community, mobilised under the umbrella of an organisation called Brihannala, are assisting people amid the coronavirus lockdown by providing them with emergency services.

Dhaka University
Published : 5 May 2020, 03:48 PM
Updated : 5 May 2020, 03:48 PM

Brought together by the students of the University of Dhaka, a team of 14, including 10 transgender persons, respond to people in any corners of the capital city.

Their scope of services include groceries shopping, emergency supply of medicines, rushing the sick, including pregnant women, to the hospital, and distributing food among the poor and the needy.

The organisation is also helping out women and children with food and people in crisis with aid materials, and personal protective equipment - all from their limited funds free of charge.

Apart from Brihannala’s sponsors, the students of the university are also helping them to raise money for the services.

Their works include distributing hand sanitizers in the Shahjadpur slums, spraying insecticides in public transports, Geneva camp and ambulances at Sayedabad, Jatrabari, Palashi, Azimpur, Chankharpool and Dhaka Medical College. They also provided relief materials at Kamlapur slums.

Brihannala began assisting the people in the shutdown on May 2 by taking an oath at the Shaheed Minar. The organisation’s chariman Sadiqul Islam on Mar 22 started helping people out by himself, cycling from one place to another.

Overwhelmed by the number of people that need help, he drafted in people of the transgender community. Now the organisation sends aid through pick-up cars.

A group of youths started Brihannala in November 2017 as a voluntary organisation, with founder Sadiqul at the helm. They began working on sensitising the people about the transgender. 

Sadiqul told, “Those who are viewed differently in our society, those who are shunted out of our society, they are giving their all to serve society at a time of crisis. This is a testament to the fact that the ‘Brihannala’ (transgender people) are an integral part of society, that they are human as well.”

“Our aim is to bring the transgender people to the mainstream. There is a negative perception about the transgender community in our society.”

Elaborating on the activities of Brihannala, Sadiqul said, “It is not possible to explain what we go through on the phone and via text messages. We have provided emergency services to 217 families this week.”

“With limited ability, we could not provide people with enough aid. Additionally, the earnings  of the eunuch community has dried up. They themselves are in need of aid. But we have hit the street, so we are not looking back,

“Now we are trying to meet the demand of people stuck at home.”

To receive emergency services, people need to dial 01980704396 or 01735893102 or 01781553528.