Kolkata

Post lockdown, 3 Good Samaritans turn charity into business for survival

Debayan Datta, Turni Das and Swarnaditya Das.

Debayan Datta, Turni Das and Swarnaditya Das.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Turni Dhar, Debayan Datta and Swarnaditya Das — three friends who, when the lockdown was imposed in late March and their workplaces were shut, decided to keep themselves busy by turning Good Samaritans.

At a time when stepping out of home was almost unthinkable for the common citizens, not just because of the fear of COVID-19 but also because of police restrictions, they offered help to the elderly living alone, reaching them medicines and essential supplies and arranging ambulances. The work done by them was lauded so widely in Kolkata that these three hitherto unknown people earned minor celebrity.

Today, the police restrictions have eased off, but the grip of COVID-19 has only got firmer in the city, forcing the elderly to continue staying indoors. And while businesses are gradually reopening, their workplaces still haven’t. They come from industries that are among the worst hit — Ms. Dhar works with a wine importer, Mr. Datta is with retail hospitality and Mr. Das owns a restaurant.

While they have been generous with help during the lockdown, no one is helping them when their incomes have run dry. So they have decided to turn their charity work into business. Last week, they set up an organisation called Dependablez, through which they will continue helping the elderly living alone in the city — but this time for a cost. Their move is also a reflection of the changing nature of ventures in the new normal — before the pandemic, not many would have kept the elderly in mind while starting a new business.

‘We too need to survive’

“We too need to survive,” said Mr. Das, a lawyer by qualification but who always wanted to have his own business. His restaurant Hondo’s, on Prince Anwar Shah Road, was just about recovering from losses when COVID-19 struck. Barely days into the lockdown he had no money to pay the rent and salaries, and soon came a down when he found it difficult to even meet his father’s medical expenses. That was the time he found comfort in helping others. “When charities are doing business, it’s better to do a business of helping people and not be a hypocrite about it.”

Ms. Dhar said, “Our services will encourage senior citizens to live as independently as possible. Nearly a dozen clients are already on board, mostly people who have their children living outside Kolkata or abroad. There are other companies doing this work but they are too professional in their dealings — we will provide the human touch, something we learned during the lockdown.”

It was Ms. Dhar who, along with Debayan Datta, had set up a WhatsApp group called Let’s Help during the lockdown. It was a great source of comfort to Indians stationed outside Kolkata or India but who had parents living in the city. “We helped about 500 families [during the lockdown] with regular supply of their daily needs and medicines. The requests are coming in even today, but it is not possible for us to keep on offering our services in an unorganised manner. That’s why we set up Dependablez,” said Mr. Datta.

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 4:54:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/post-lockdown-3-good-samaritans-turn-charity-into-business-for-survival/article32238965.ece

Next Story