Kolkata

In Kolkata, enterprising citizens reach medicines, groceries to the elderly

Good samaritans use social media to supply essentials to senior citizens.

While most people are spending the lockdown by reading and sharing Covid-19-related WhatsApp forwards, a small number of people in Kolkata are utilising the time to reach medicines and essential supplies to the elderly confined to their homes.

Take Debayan Datta, for example. Even before the lockdown was announced in Kolkata, he put up a post on Facebook saying something should be done about the senior citizens living alone. He was motivated by the concerns raised by their children living in other cities or abroad. Within hours of putting up the post, he was anchoring a WhatsApp group of about 80 people called Let’s Help, each of the volunteering to help in some way or the other.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

“On an average we are reaching medicines and groceries to five or six houses in a day. Volunteers are functioning in their respective neighbourhoods,” Mr. Datta, who works with the hospitality industry, told The Hindu. “The idea came to me because I too worry about my elderly mother when I am travelling — I can relate to the plight of those who are unable to visit their parents [because of the lockdown].”

On Tuesday, ex-banker Mohammad Nehal and his lawyer friend Syed Ehtisham Huda also began a similar service. “I have already received some 25 calls, they are all on behalf of the elderly who need life-saving drugs,” said Mr. Nehal, even as he shopped for medicines at a store in South City Mall. He also put up a Facebook post calling for volunteers for this “humanity-first initiative”.

During such as unprecedented lockdown, help, sometimes, is not just about reaching essentials to the needy. Luna Chatterjee, a brand strategist who is part of the Let’s Help group, has been assigned to stay in touch with an elderly couple, just to assure them that they are not alone.

“They are total strangers — they are the parents of a friend’s friend who lives abroad — but I call them every day to let them know we are around. Such people don’t just need essential supplies, they also need people to talk to,” said Ms. Chatterjee.

Sometimes, emergency situations are unprecedented in nature. “The other day we got to know of an elderly man living alone with four cats,” said Ms. Chatterjee. “His neighbours had poisoned the cats out of fear that they carried the virus. People instantly reached out to him and guided him to the veterinary hospital and even offered to accompany him if required. The vets, unfortunately, could save only two cats.”

Such private citizens apart, the Kolkata police and the municipal corporation too are circulating messages on social media, offering help to Kolkatans who live abroad but have already relatives back home.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 3:27:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/in-kolkata-enterprising-citizens-reach-medicines-groceries-to-the-elderly/article31156438.ece

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