The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives in unprecedented ways. At some point, you may have felt helpless and unprepared. However, for many others, the lockdown has been devastating, impacting their lives and livelihood. There are certainly many questions running through people’s minds about this pandemic. But the one question that has taken precedence in the past few months is “How can I help?” Well, here are some ways to do your part during these challenging times, while maintaining social distancing.
Donate to those in need
The government, along with numerous other support groups and NGOs, are helping the less fortunate, struggling families and migrant workers get back on their feet. From providing financial assistance to emergency supplies, you can consider helping local support groups by either offering monetary donations, your time or abilities, and other home essentials to get them through these challenging times. Here is a list of NGOs providing relief during the pandemic that you can reach out to.
With people having to self-isolate and home quarantine for weeks, staying connected to family and friends has become a must, even if it is only through video calls. However, while we can take our smartphone for granted, many from the lower sections of society, like daily wage earners, have had to scramble for resources. With small stores closing during the lockdown, they lost the one source to recharge their phones and stay connected with family, leaving them even more isolated than the rest of us. Thankfully, brands like Airtel sprung into action by extending the validity period for over 80 million pre-paid customers. Additionally, the Airtel Thanks app has enabled users to recharge numbers belonging to other service providers. And the brand’s ‘SuperHero’ initiative is encouraging users to recharge for others by offering incentives. Gurgaon resident, Mrs Mehra organised several members from her society to help the building’s security guards and domestic help in this manner. “I came up with the idea after I saw this film,” she said. “Many of us don’t realise that a phone and network connection can be a lifeline for those making a new home in a city, away from their family and hometown.”
Become a volunteer
Given the many challenges presented by this global pandemic, a show of compassion and solidarity through volunteering is heartening. NGOs and support centres are doing their best to provide relief services to thousands of migrant workers and frontline professionals. These NGOs are also rising to the occasion by expanding virtual volunteering (e-volunteering) opportunities that you can be a part of. iVolunteer is one of many platforms that brings India’s organisations and volunteers together. The United Nations also invites skilled professionals from around the world who work as United Nations Volunteers (UNV) to mitigate the economic, social, and health impacts of this crisis.
The ability to send messages on groups and through messaging apps has increased the spread of fake news, and in a crisis, this could be quite dangerous. What you can do to help the situation is curb any misinformation from spreading. Inform relatives, acquaintances or even your maid not to let disturbing or shocking messages sway them without checking their authenticity. Better yet, teach them how to weed out fake news for themselves. Advise them to Google the information they receive and find out if other sources confirm that news. If there aren’t, tell them not to forward the message to anyone else.
Some of the more privileged people have been able to restrict contact with others, and thereby, stay safe, by staying home and ordering everything they need, from groceries to fully cooked meals. It’s the ones delivering these essentials that are risking their safety and that of their families every day to reduce the spread of the virus. The least you could do is tip them generously; what is just a few extra rupees for you could mean a little more savings for them to get through these times.
In addition to helping people, you can also do your bit for stray animals, most of whom are struggling to find food and water now that office complexes and restaurants are closed. If you are unable to feed them yourself, consider donating to NGOs that look after the welfare of strays, like Pawsitive Hearts. These are just a few ways to help out during this challenging time. The actions you take now could help many come out of this situation in a better condition than how they went into it.