Chennai

Coronavirus: These NGO’s are working around lockdown restrictions to feed the needy

Yuva volunteers give out food in Ambernath, Maharashtra

Yuva volunteers give out food in Ambernath, Maharashtra   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Rasal

For daily wage earners, a 21-day lockdown means an abrupt pause in livelihood. Here are some NGOs who have their back

Many of us, while checking our bank accounts and our stocked fridges this week, have felt a moment of gratitude for the economic security nets that we have, that will help us tide over the next 21 days. But there are also many who don’t have this net, and now do not have the option of stepping out to earn their daily wage. And so, some organisations are helping the fortunate former reach out to help the latter.

For instance, Chennai-based Sumanasa Foundation has called for contributions to fulfil a target of ₹20,000, in order to provide 100 kilograms of rice, 50 kilograms of dal, 45 litres of oil, 15 kilograms of salt, jeera, turmeric and chilli powder for the city’s community kitchens, run by the Greater Chennai Corporation. Yuva (Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action), a non-profit in Mumbai, is fundraising online to provide daily needs to over 2,000 families they surveyed in the metropolis. They require funding not only for food and groceries, but also for volunteers’ safety gear.

The NGO Safa, has been working with daily wagers like auto drivers, vendors and some members of the trans community of Hyderabad for 11 years now, and also have a presence in Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. Founder-president Rubina Nafees Fatima describes the situation in Hyderabad, “Even the night shelters, where we usually have difficulty convincing people — especially women — to move to, are seeing long queues of people hoping for food.” Safa has been providing a standardised package of rations “that can sustain a family of four for about five days” in the hotspots that they have located around the city.

“We identify two people in each basti (hamlet) to volunteer giving out these packets at each door, so as to avoid queues. We have also trained our volunteers about hygiene and social distancing,” she says. Safa has been doing this for a few days now, but since the lockdown came into effect, supplies are expected to dry out soon. The main bottleneck is that of permits, both for people and vehicles. “We have vans and trucks with permits now, but need volunteer drivers. Wholesalers are also falling short of labour. Besides these, each city has its own unique problems,” she says, adding that the organisation is rolling out an app to coordinate with those who want to help.

Similarly, Bengaluru-based NGO Hasiru Dala received permits for its vehicles and staff members only on Friday, says Lakshmi Karunakaran, a member of its children’s programme. “The challenges are multiple, because there is a complete freeze,” she says. “Before the lockdown, a relief work sticker on some of our vehicles would help them ply. Now, we need to give documents and the vehicle number in order to get a pass for each person on ground.” So even if more people are ready to volunteer, she explains, they have to wait till they get a pass, since movement in public is understandably under restriction.

Pitch in
  • Sumanasa Foundation can be contacted via email at sumanasafoundation
  • @gmail.com
  • Safa can be reached through the volunteering app, buildtheworld.org
  • Yuva can be found on its Instagram (@officialyuva) and Facebook (yuvaindia84) pages

The NGO has been working with waste pickers in six towns and cities of Karnataka for 11 years now, including Bengaluru, Mysore and Hubli. “They pick recyclable paper and other things during the day, and sell them to scrap dealers at night — none of which they can do at the moment. Many of them are not from stable homes, or are migrants, or have no ration cards. We have identified about 2,000 families who don’t have ration cards, since they can’t avail the relief announced by the State Government,” says Lakshmi.

Since the informal norms of social distancing began, they had begun distributing food kits and children’s hygiene kits (including soap and handkerchiefs).

“Before the lockdown was announced, we had managed to give out 260 food kits, each containing five kilograms of toor dal, some masoor dal, oil, soaps, chilli powder and jaggery, in addition to 25 kilograms of regular rice, or boiled rice, or maize or wheat flour, depending on where the family had migrated from,” says Lakshmi, adding, “Since the lockdown, we have been running around for permission. But now that we have them, we can start work again.”

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 10:43:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/these-ngos-are-working-around-coronavirus-lockdown-restrictions-to-feed-the-needy/article31192583.ece

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