In this series, individuals, citizen groups and RWAs explain how they have dealt with the COVID-19 crisis in a constructive manner. In the seventh part of the series, a resident of Jakkur describes how her gated community supported those in need.
On March 22, the day our Prime Minister called for Janta Curfew, we sensed the challenge ahead was not going to end anytime soon. The Janta Curfew gave a sneak peek into the potential problems during the long haul. It also made me ask – what can each individual do to minimise these problems?
Around that time, my husband Shanil and I came across the call for volunteers by the Karnataka Government. We quickly registered to volunteer for COVID-19 Karnataka Sahaya, a Telegram service initiated under the leadership of Captain P Manivannan, IAS. We disseminated accurate information related to COVID-19 to the community through this platform, and filtered out fake news.
We live in a gated community, Sobha Ultima, on Jakkur Plantation Road in North Bengaluru. This community has three different apartment clusters named Zircon, Amber and Malachite. We live in the Zircon cluster.
In the waiting period for receiving our COVID-19 Warrior ID card, we spotted our neighbour, Sriram, undertaking food distribution at the Yelahanka Police Station. We have known Sriram for a couple of years and wanted to learn about his initiative. Sriram shared his volunteering updates with Shanil on WhatsApp and the same evening both met on the terrace. Here’s what happened next and continues till date.
Ration kits to migrant workers in Yelahanka
After connecting with Sriram, we reached out to people in Zircon, who contributed generously. In just 36 hours, we collected contributions that could fund for over 200 ration kits.
Shanil and Sriram coordinated with the FCI (Food Corporation of India) through an NGO, so as to purchase essentials at subsidised costs. They also coordinated with traders to purchase groceries for the food kit, which were packed at the Poorna Learning Centre.
The COVID-19 Warrior group shared details of migrant workers and the local police stations, and extended their support in distributing the kits.
Keeping our community informed
We shared regular updates of our distribution activities with Zircon residents, along with pictures. This served as a catalyst and helped make the larger residential community aware of our initiative. Residents from Amber and Malachite came forward with contributions.
Many of us shared these updates with family and friends, which resulted in further contributions. We were able to receive contributions for over 100 kits just by reaching out to friends.
Call for contributions
A call for contributions was then shared with residents of Sobha Ultima. I helped with the collection. The call reads as follows:
|Sobha Ultima Residents Contribution towards support for the migrant labourers in Bengaluru – COVID-19 Lockdown phase|
Cost per kit – Rs. 714/-
Ingredients in the kit:
-Wheat flour 2kg
-Oil 1 litre
-Toor dal 1kg
-Biscuits 3 pack
-Tea 2 packets of 100g each
-Bath soap – 1piece
-Soap detergent – 200g
Payment via Google pay to 94813xxxxxx (Mamtha BK)
Once the payment is made, please text to 94813xxxxx
Google pay reference:
So far, we have distributed 621 ration kits that have benefited nearly 2500 people. Distribution was done mainly in Byatarayanapura, Yelahanka, Amruthahalli, Jakkur, Hoskote, and so on.
The Chintamani project
Additionally, Sriram, his wife Nithya, Shanil and I have supplied 400 ration kits that would benefit 1500 vulnerable people in Chintamani. My son and his friend raised donations for this project through an online platform. The funds would enable us to distribute another 200 kits in Chintamani. We procured rice directly from the FCI for this project too.
There have been three major takeaways from this initiative:
- We joined hands to give some relief to migrant labourers.
- Two young adults Nayonika and Shamanth in the residential community created the online donation platform for the Chintamani Project and have received contributions far more than expected.
- The support and timely information shared by COVID warriors helped us identify the vulnerable and ensure they were taken care of. The DCP office helped in distribution by pointing us towards areas where help was needed.
It’s amazing to see how people from other Indian states and from countries like Singapore and the US along with local residents have helped raise donations to support migrant workers and others in need. For us, this truly is unity in diversity.
The objective of reaching out to the poor is bringing together neighbours who were strangers till a few weeks ago. The coordination with the DCP office has also strengthened community bonds between the police and citizens.