From buying groceries to paying rent, the team has been helping families affected by the coronavirus in the second wave.

Memers Anurag and Vikas standing and posing for a picture in blue and white costumesNayini Anurag (left) and Sachin Vikas
Features Entertainment Wednesday, June 09, 2021 - 19:17

Titled ‘Dis page vll Entertain U’, the motto of the Facebook page when it came up about a decade ago was to do just that — entertain people with creative content. Slowly, the page also spread to Twitter and Instagram. And now, the social media pages have become a bridge to connect donors and the needy in these testing times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital entertainers say that it all started when people who were running from pillar to post for assistance, messaged them on social media platforms, seeking help. This got them thinking about how they could pitch in.

With 57.2k followers on Twitter, 99.6k followers on Instagram and 2.78 lakh followers on Facebook, the memers have excellent reach. "In the first wave, we contributed to PM CARES and CM relief funds to help the government deal with the pandemic. But in this wave, after people directly approached us, we thought we should get more involved to benefit the needy," says Nayini Anurag Reddy, one of the founders and admins of the pages.

Soon after the idea popped up, the team of 10 sat down and chalked out a plan for addressing the requests, verifying them, identifying potential beneficiaries and how to connect them with donors. They also discussed how to ensure transparency in the entire process.

“In the last one month alone, we received about 550 requests. We could not help everyone, but we replied to them, spoke to them, sometimes made video calls if the family was okay with it. We observed the condition that they were in, and then prioritised the families that we could help. This entire process has shown us how difficult it has become for people to survive in this pandemic, especially daily wage laborers who lost work,” adds Anurag.

Sharing one such experience, Anurag says that an auto driver, who lost his source of income in this pandemic, was also diagnosed with mouth cancer. Being the breadwinner, his family crumbled under the financial pressure. When the admins got the request, and upon verification, they not only sent the family groceries but also paid the rent.

The memers are now helping families from both the Telugu states in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in various districts. Meanwhile, with increasing cases of cyber fraud and donation-related scams, the memers are trying to be as transparent as possible with their work. From the first family that they helped to the most recent, they have uploaded details of the groceries purchased along with the bills for every transaction made.

Anurag says that recently, they also decided to make sure that they buy groceries from local shops instead of supermarkets so that smaller businesses would also get income. They support each family with groceries up to Rs 2,500.

Initially, Anurag and Sachin Vikas, who started the meme page on Facebook, put in about Rs 65,000 from their pocket to buy and send the groceries. However, on seeing their work, donors stepped in. This includes film stars from Tollywood who have made anonymous contributions.

Notably, the group has worked with the teams of about 50 films for digital marketing. On a regular day, they make content for entertainment and also post information about films on social media. Now along with this, they are also taking up requests from the public and helping them.

Read: After his death, activist Achyuta Rao's kin is helping COVID-affected families

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