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Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Good Samaritans: Delivering free of cost meals to COVID affected in home isolation

While the Mitra Mandal is keen on ensuring that the service remains uninterrupted, sending out 300 tiffins daily and engaging more service providers is fast depleting their resources.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: April 16, 2021 11:11:22 pm
Rajubhai Shah along with his team members at his workshop where the group cook food and package it for the home quarantine Covid patients. (Express photo by Ashish Kale)

Delivering meals to people in home quarantine free-of-cost for the past seven to eight months has not been an easy task for the Shree Pune Modh Mitra Mandal. But as a humanitarian gesture, this large community has supplied as many as 9,000 tiffins.

“The demand has increased to nearly 300 tiffins daily from 10-15 earlier,” said 63-year-old Raju Shah, president of the Shree Pune Modh Mitra Mandal.

“It was sometime in August last year that the number of poeple in home isolation had slowly started to rise. We held several meetings with the members in our Mitra Mandal and decided to contribute our own funds to the tune of Rs 15 lakh to help those in home isolation with home cooked food,” Shah told The Indian Express.

There are 97,023 active Covid-19 cases in Pune district of which 75,947 patients are in home isolation as on Friday. Of these, 45,529 people are in home isolation in Pune city, 16,738 in Pimpri-Chinchwad and 13,680 in Pune rural and cantonment areas.

At the Mitra Mandal in the early days of the pandemic, 13 active committee members played a significant role, from tracking auto drivers, contacting volunteers who would take the tiffins to identifying more families who needed the home-based service. The Mitra Mandal utilised the services of Bipin Goradya, who has a catering unit.

“We have our own workshop in Handewadi and at 6 am every day, my staff and volunteers cook food and prepare the tiffins. At the beginning of the pandemic it was 10-15 tiffins daily, but now the demand has shot up and as many as 1,000 phulkas are made every day. There is a greater demand for the morning tiffins so our workers make more than 500 phulkas, rice, sabzi and dal and by 10 am, the volunteers are ready to send tiffin boxes to those in home quarantine. Area-wise volunteers are identified. For instance in Hadapsar, several societies get tiffins apart from patients at Sane Guruji hospital,” Goradya said.

Forty-six-year-old Bhavna Hiren Shah, who tested positive in December, said it was a challenging time for her family. “I had tested positive and my doctor asked me to remain in home isolation. I definitely needed home cooked meals. My husband made several enquiries and someone suggested the Modh Mitra Mandal. The organisation gave us meals twice a day for a fortnight, absolutely free-of-cost. The timing was perfect – daily at 11 am and 7 pm and occasionally, we got sweets too. Their meals were nutritious and apart from helping people in these difficult times, it was a huge solace that I did not have to rely on restaurant made food,” she said.

The Mandal organisers started getting calls from people settled abroad who had relatives in Pune. “I remember one call from a young girl whose parents had tested positive in Pune and while her father was hospitalised, her mother was in home isolation. She was too weak to cook and the girl could not immediately come to Pune. Our tiffin service ensured that her mother got both meals daily during that period,” Shah said.

While the Mitra Mandal is keen on ensuring that the service remains uninterrupted, sending out 300 tiffins daily and engaging more service providers is fast depleting their resources. “We run a bill of almost Rs 30,000 daily for these meals. We will not shut our service but now have requested persons who have benefited from our daily tiffins to contribute. In our meetings with committee members we have also decided on levying a minimum charge for the service,” Shah said.

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