A reliable sewing machine and the will to serve

At 81, Saroja sews masks and distributes them for free to the needy

After almost a life of hard work and taking care of his family, no one would have faulted Saroja for a well-deserved leave during the pandemic. But that’s not his style. At 81, A. Saroja wanted no change in her hectic routine – to stay engaged, she sewed masks and handed them out for free to the needy.

The age lines on her face don’t accurately reflect the challenges Saroja has overcome. She trusted her sewing machine, which has been with her for nearly six decades, and got to work.

A hand

“A lot of people, poor people from the neighborhood would visit me to do needlework, and they would cover their faces with saris while I had a mask to cover my face. That’s when I decided to sew some masks and give them away for free, ”Ms. Saroja said.

“We initially distributed around 1,000 food packages to the needy in the area and we also distributed ‘kabasura kudineer’. But we stopped after the government introduced restrictions on food distribution. I’m someone who needs to stay engaged, I need to keep working, ”she says. “That’s when I started sewing masks for the needy.

She sewed and distributed over 5,000 masks and continues to make them even today.

Ms Saroja was born near Mettur in the 1940s and married at the age of 13. Her husband, A. Angamuthu, worked for the railroads and retired as a freight warden. He died in 1997. She lost two of her eight children – her third and seventh daughters – due to various health problems.

A constant

It was the sewing machine that was very useful to him. Her brother bought it for her in the 1960s, and he accompanied her wherever the family traveled. Although there is now a motor attached, she still prefers the leg pedal.

Although she is 81 years old, Ms. Saroja does not need glasses to thread the needle; her family say she remains free from any lifestyle-related illnesses.

A. Vasantha, her eldest daughter, remembers: “Even when I was a child, my mother spent hours sewing on the machine. Before having the machine, she worked on the ‘charkha’.

Her son Natarajan’s wife, N. Poonkudi, says Ms. Saroja doesn’t like snacks or sweets in stores and chooses to make them at home. She says there is no more garbage or thrown away fabrics at home now that all of them have been converted into masks.

A big supporter of education, Ms. Saroja says: “It is the only real estate asset. She tells the young people to help the needy in any way they can.


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