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A crusade against hunger in the time of COVID-19 pandemic and cyclones

Srini Swaminathan  

Adversity sometimes thrusts people to the fore. The world notices their courage to stand up for something or go the extra mile to help others, even as they themselves are inconvenienced.

Srini Swaminathan, 41, is a social development consultant. He is happy to provide food to the homeless. The COVID-19 pandemic opened new doors for him. He has been busy for a few days now, placing orders for sweets buns, bread and tea to feed the homeless in the city in view of Cyclone Burevi.

Last week, as the government was preparing to mitigate the damage that Cyclone Nivar could do to the city, he was quick to arrange food for homeless persons curled up under flyovers and at street corners and relief centres. Last week alone, he fed nearly 3,500 homeless persons and rescue workers across the city. “I gave sweet buns, chapathi and tea to people at the relief centres and the homeless in Velachery, Kottivakkam, Tambaram, Palavakkam and Madipakkam. I wanted to supplement what the Chennai Corporation was doing,” he says.

A crusade against hunger in the time of COVID-19 pandemic and cyclones

This idea dawned on him in March, when the pandemic descended on Chennai and migrant workers were about to leave the city in special trains after a protracted struggle. “I wondered where they would eat during a journey that could take more than a day, with all shops closed. So I withdrew about ₹1 lakh from my savings and bought chapathis and bread for these workers. Subsequently, help poured in; close to ₹40 lakh was collected through crowd-funding, and nearly 1.45 lakh food packets were distributed. There was some money left, and I used it for providing food to the homeless during Nivar and Burevi,” he adds.

Not just the homeless, he also packs food and tea for rescue workers, including policemen and corporation workers. He goes out distributing food to those dependent on temple ‘annadhanam’ during the lockdown period. He coordinates with three food and tea vendors and volunteers from Maatram Educational and Charitable Trust for food distribution. “It is all about paying it forward. I broke the cycle of poverty by getting help from the community and the government. Now it is the time to give it in abundance to those in need. If you cannot help the hyperlocal community around you, even in little ways, change will never happen,” he says.

A crusade against hunger in the time of COVID-19 pandemic and cyclones

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 7:56:11 PM |

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