Mumbai Against CAA starts helpline to connect relief efforts

Sanacruz Golibar Basti residents blessing Javed who distributed ration supplies for one week.  

Mumbai Against CAA, a non-governmental organisation that was at the forefront of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in the city, has started a helpline to connect the organisations and individuals willing to help those in need of food, ration, shelters or medical help during the nationwide lockdown.

Members of the group said the initiative was undertaken after they realised that there were a lot of people willing to help the needy, but didn’t know how to go about it.

Haphazard attempts by several people at a time was leading to duplication of effort, and the need for a streamlined initiative was felt. This is how the Lockdown Relief helpline took shape. Richard Jacob (45), one of the members, said, “The helpline was started with two to three volunteers on the evening of March 27, and we started receiving calls immediately with offers of food and rations and enquiries about need for shelters. Till date, we have attended to about 1,600 calls.”

Mr. Jacob said most of the calls from the underprivileged were about the lack of food, including daily wage labourers who did not even have ration cards and were in the worst situation when it came to food.

There are also cases where people get rations but not enough, and the helpline provides the rations that the callers are lacking.

“We also get calls from people who are stuck far away from their homes and call us seeking help, like people who were visiting their relatives in other cities when the lockdown was announced.

Facing difficulty in reaching a family, a volunteer called up the local police station in Taloja for help, and was provided assistance in delivering relief rations.

Facing difficulty in reaching a family, a volunteer called up the local police station in Taloja for help, and was provided assistance in delivering relief rations.  

“In such situations, we can only advise them to stay calm and in particularly bad cases, provide them with the details of the nearest shelters or police stations” Mr. Jacob said.

The helpline, which covers Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, mainly connects four kinds of donors: those wishing to distribute rations or funds themselves, those willing to help with logistics, those who want to provide medical support and those collecting donations to pass on to the other volunteers.

“The idea is to ensure that the food reaches the needy. It is the donors’ responsibility to get permissions and passes from the local police station,” he said.

He said they will soon be approaching the government for support so that they can reach out to a larger number of people.

“It is very disheartening to see so many people in distress and it is not possible to help each and every person. There have been times when our volunteers have contacted local corporators for assistance in their areas,” said Mr. Jacob.

The initiative was possible due to the extensive effort put in by the back-end team, including compiling lists of corporators, police stations, donors, volunteers and other agencies, he said. “We have been able to help around 2,500 people till date and are planning another project called ‘Adopt a Meal’, where a person can pay for 70 meals for one family.”

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 10:07:47 AM |

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