Gratitude Project offers countless ways to say thank you to COVID-19 frontline workers
Started by seven young women, Gratitude Project has seen more than 500 posts of thankfulness towards those on the frontline during lockdowns across India
“It’s one thing to be grateful, it’s another to express it in ways that are deeper than just the words ‘thank you’,” says Maya Patel, one of the founders of Mumbai-based Gratitude Project (TGP) that was started in the last week of May. “We wanted the wall to be a space of that expression of how people’s lives have been touched in positive ways during the pandemic.”
Over the last year, there have been many projects offering thanks to frontline workers in healthcare, agrarian community, last mile delivery, law enforcement, sanitation, security, and media. Some of them write letters, some raise funds and others pitch in to buy them essentials.
But the team behind Gratitude Project, which launched in the last week of May, wanted this to be a forever journal of thanks.
Maya — who was also the narrator for Kailash Satyarthi Emmy-nominated documentary ‘The Price Of Free’ — is also glad the project comes at a time when many people feel demoralised by the state of the nation while the rest of the world gets back to normal. While social media has certainly become a black hole of rants, they wanted Gratitude Project to be a ray of light amid the noise.
Those working on the project are Maansi Vohra, Hriyanka Shah, Mili Sanwalka, Shivika Poonglia, Latisha Shah, Alekha Advani and Maya, all of whom worked with the YouthFeed India campaign over the pandemic. Through their work, the girls were able to see which communities were not given as much thanks as they deserved, and they conceptualised a gratitude hub — much like the lock bridge in Paris, says Maya — to tangibly show respect and appreciation.
The website, designed by SH-One with graphics by Ravina Puri, is minimalist so posts have more impact.
Top left to right: Maya Patel, Shivika Poonglia, Maansi Vohra; Bottom left to right: Alekha Advani, Hriyanka Shah, Mili Sanwalka | Photo Credit: Special arrangement
Maya adds that the team wanted people to be creative and explore beyond a ‘normal thank you’. A skim of the website wall reveals different mediums such as photos, poetry and drawings — many in Hindi, Marathi and Punjabi. The team is keen on on-boarding translators for Tamil, Telugu and other south languages to get the translations and moderations right.
Coming full circle
“More than the messages we have received, it is the responses,” says Maya. “As an initiative, our mission is to get as many posts up as possible, but to also get this in front of as many frontline workers as possible. We’ve been contacted by delivery executives and doctors who tell us, ‘this made my day, I’ve had so many days of darkness’. That is our fuel to keep going.”
Maya explains Gratitude Project’s core value: “If we couldn’t show the frontline workers the gratitude they have received, we wouldn’t have proceeded. We want people to know this whole concept is larger than it looks on-screen, in terms of impact.”
Gratitude Project has also engaged a lot of NRIs whose parents and relatives reside in India and often worry about their welfare. “There are a lot of organisations that help with care of elderly while their children reside outside of India, so we’ve seen a lot of attention towards these frontline workers,” observes Maya.
With the number of posts shooting past 500, including those written by Athiya Shetty and Soha Ali Khan, Gratitude Project may be growing but Maya and her team want gratitude to grow more. “Our country has shown us there ishumanity left and that people are happy to just help!”