The 21-day lockdown has taken a toll on the livelihood of people in many ways. Following the suspension of trains, 1,727 migrant workers from West Bengal, Odisha and other parts of the country’s northern states were left stranded in Chennai Central Station on March 23. The Chennai Corporation has accommodated them in eight community halls across the city.
On the other hand, 2,064 homeless people were rescued and accommodated in 51 camps across Chennai. Apart from the Corporations, various NGOs have also joined hands to make the current situation better for the people. In a bid to support the conservancy workers, who put their life at risk to keep the city clean, the residents of Zone 13 in Chennai have come forward to initiate a fundraiser. An online fundraiser page has been set up to support the workers.
Following hygiene protocols, and after receiving approval from the officials in each area in the city, Sri Vigneshwar, a 34-year-old techie from Chennai alongside his friends, are catering the food every afternoon to the needy people in places like Anna Nagar, Koyembedu, etc.
Bhoomika Trust is a Chennai-based NGO that has been involved in volunteer service for more than 15 years. They had provided numerous services during natural disasters like Tsunami in 2004, the Chennai Floods in 2015, Gaja Cyclone in 2018, etc. During the Kerala Floods in 2018, they set-up a remote helpline from Chennai and helped the government in delivering various relief kits.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Aruna Subramaniam, one of the trustees of the organisation, said their focus is now to reach out to the elderly persons who require various services during the lockdown period. “Two hundred people have signed up with our trust for volunteering. We have set up our help-line number (044-46314726) just yesterday and we have started receiving calls. We have volunteers from our organisation who are processing the task like picking up medicines, groceries, or even food packers from a restaurant if their caretakers are not available,” said Subramaniam.
“Few senior citizens in Chennai are undergoing dialysis, we are helping them to reach the hospital and get them back home through our ambulance since auto/cabs are not plying now. For some of the senior citizens who are stressed in these situations, we are trying to hand-hold them by talking to them, these are some of the services we do currently and we are geared to scale this up now,” she added.
Aruna further said they have already helped three dialysis patients and are initiating the community to reach out to more people. “Even today, we got a request from a person in Chitlapakkam, we connected to the local NGO and helped the patient. We have certain guidelines and hence all our volunteers will adhere to the protocols issued by the government. We are also reaching out to charitable organisations which take care of the immune-compromised in the city. We are ready to help them any time” she added.
No Food Waste is a Coimbatore-based non-profit organisation that has been in the service of redistributing the excess food to the needy for the past six years. They are now actively involved in providing a meal to around 5,000 people across Coimbatore, Erode, Tiruchirapalli, and Salem.
Hareesh, one of the coordinators of the organisation, said they are an eight-member team catering to more than 800 people per day in Coimbatore alone.
“After we got permission from Coimbatore Corporation, we collaborated with few leading kitchens like Shanthi kitchen which can provide 1,000 meals per day and formed the community kitchen model. The kitchens are highly sterilised as per government norms. After the meal is cooked, they give us a call and then we distribute the food to the needy. We follow the hygiene protocols during this entire process. Only two of our members will be in the food-truck to deliver the food. They will be wearing face masks, gloves, and every vehicle will have a sanitiser,” he said.
Hareesh further added that they are not accepting any volunteers at present to avoid any propagation of the virus. “We are an eight-member team in Coimbatore, and other places like Salem, Tiruchirapalli, and Erode have five or six members each, we are not accepting any volunteers at present, we are happy operating as a small team. We started this service from Monday and through our helpline number (+91 90877-90877) we are receiving more than 800 food requests per day in Coimbatore alone. We are supplying food even to doctors, nurses and other medical staff. Since we are recognised by the Coimbatore Corporation, people have no reservations in accepting the food delivery from us,” Hareesh added.
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