Society

Helping hands: Here’s how community kitchen and NGOs in Visakhapatnam are helping the homeless

Citizens distributing food to the homeless, and migrant workers during the lockdown in Visakhapatnam.
Photo: K.R. Deepak / The Hindu

Citizens distributing food to the homeless, and migrant workers during the lockdown in Visakhapatnam. Photo: K.R. Deepak / The Hindu   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Several organisations step up to those struggling with the lockdown by providing them food, groceries and medicines

Knives slice through vegetables, rice is washed and ladles clang against cauldrons at the Guruwara Sadh Sangat in Visakhapatnam. At the crack of dawn, every day, 12 in-house staff start cooking for 600 people. They work swiftly as the officials from Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) will arrive to pick up the food at 12.30 pm and carry it away to distribute to the shelter homes across the city.

“We always have langar at the gurdwara, but after the announcement of the lockdown we decided to use the stocked up groceries to feed the poor and homeless during these tough times. The GVMC reached out to us for food and since March 31 we have been sending out these food packages,” says Dr S D Anand, president of Gurdwara.

They cook vegetable biryani, pulav and bisibelebath along with raita every alternate day. “Even after the lockdown ends we plan to keep giving the food to these homeless people. We also intend to start serving the poor and homeless at the gurdwara,” Anand adds.

The management at the gurdwara also donated groceries to over 110 Shikligar families (traditionally blacksmiths belonging to the Sikh community). “They migrated to the city several decades ago and live mostly around Anakapalle, Madhurwada, Gajuwaka, Kommadi, Maddilapalem and Peda Gantyada. Most of these families are not well off and so we provided them with groceries for a month,’ he says.

Volunteers at the Gurdwara preparing food for 600 homeless and stranded migrants in Visakhapatnam during a nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. Photo : K.R. Deepak / The Hindu

Volunteers at the Gurdwara preparing food for 600 homeless and stranded migrants in Visakhapatnam during a nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. Photo : K.R. Deepak / The Hindu   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

In the nick of time

Several other organisations and individuals in Visakhapatnam are reaching out to the hungry and the homeless. As the fears about the virus spread, masks and sanitizers flew off the racks. Even hospitals struggled to find them for their doctors and paramedical staff. Ananya Gopalshetty, an entrepreneur, decided to step in and help out the doctors in government-run hospitals.

Being well connected with several suppliers in the city, Ananya managed to collect 1000 masks and over 35 litres of sanitizers and donated them to King George Hospital and the Government TB and Chest Hospital. “There is also a Whatsapp group dedicated to the needs of people during the lockdown that informs others about what is happening in the city. It was through this group that I learnt about the lack of protective gear for the medical personnel. So through CII- Young Indians, an organisation that I am a part of we reached out to city-based company Think 3D to print face sheets. We have seen the samples they provided us and soon we will be getting these made in bulk to donate at the hospitals,” she says.

Think 3D is a printing service provider headquartered in Visakhapatnam. The company is working full steam to manufacture face shields, ventilator splitters, ventilator components, COVID-19 test kit machines and COVID-19 test kits.

“3D printing is way faster than the conventional methods of making face shields. In times like these where time is important, we are trying to scale up the production as much as possible. Apart from Young Indians several organisations from across the country have approached us for these commodities. Right now we are focusing on the printing of face shields and test kits as they are the need of the hour,” says Raja Sekhar Upputuri, co-founder of Think 3D.

Ananya who owns the Siripuram-based Waltair Kitchen makes food with the help of her in-house staff. “Currently, my husband and I are financing it but we have also started accepting donations. If more people came forward, we could do more,” she adds.

Greenface, an NGO that works for environmental issues is supporting other organisations by donating medicines, food and other necessities. “When we contacted NGOs that were reaching out to stranded people, we learnt that food supply was the main concern. Since my brother runs a hotel, we got in touch with his food suppliers and procured rice, pulses and edible oil. Anyone who requires medicines can also reach out to us with the prescription and we will try to get those,” says Ratna Latha, founder of Greenface.

(You can reach out to Young Indians at 957622758 and GreenFace at 98481 90787)

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:27:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/ngos-and-gurudwaras-in-visakhapatnam-step-up-to-help-the-vunerable-and-homeless/article31279026.ece

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