Ration kits, medical aid: How Bengaluru volunteers are lending help amid COVID-19

Amidst the humanitarian crisis, many citizen groups and volunteers across the city are helping with COVID-19 relief work in whatever way they can.
A youth distributing COVID-19 relief materials
A youth distributing COVID-19 relief materials
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In the last week of April, a security guard of an apartment in Bengaluru’s Whitefield area tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Soon after, his wife, who also tested positive, was admitted to the ICU of Manipal Hospital. The situation was overwhelming and distressing for the couple’s son despite the family receiving help. This is when the ambulance driver who ferried them, stepped in and did his bit. After taking them to the hospital, he stayed back with the boy, helping him with the formalities of the hospital and dropped him back home. 

The second wave of the ongoing pandemic has seen Bengaluru registering a sudden increase in not only the number of cases but also fatalities. Social media sites were flooded with requests for medication, oxygen and queries regarding hospital beds. Amidst the humanitarian crisis, many citizen groups and volunteers across the city have stepped in to help those in need. Home cooks have been delivering food for free or for a minimal charge to those infected with COVID-19, while volunteers have been working with the civic body to ensure that the resources reach those who need it.

Citizen groups like Whitefield Rising have been collaborating with other NGOs and Mercy Mission — a collective of non-profit organisations involved in COVID-19 relief, to make sure help reaches those who need it in time. Speaking about the work the association is doing, Zibi Jamal, a member of Whitefield Rising, says that they have set up quarantine centres and COVID-19 Care Centres for kids. “Since medical aid was paramount, we focused on the same. Volunteers would take stock of bed availability through the helplines given by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP),” Zibi adds. The group has also installed a beverage machine for frontline workers in Bengaluru hospitals.

Similarly, Citizens for Citizens (C4C), a citizens’ community service group, have been engaged in donating dry ration kits. On June 4, the group handed out dry ration kits to the families in need in and around Vasant Nagar in the city. Rajkumar Dugar, founder of the two-year-old initiative, tells TNM that the group has been doing COVID-19 relief work since the onset of the pandemic and has helped many in the locality. “When the BBMP had announced that persons with disabilities, vendors, etc. would get vaccinated on priority, we collated data on such people in the locality, however, it did not materialise. However, we have ensured that help reaches those in need.”

The collective has organised blood donation camps and donated oxygen concentrators and also ensured COVID-19 appropriate behaviour was being followed in the primary health centres in the locality by cleaning the premises and putting new demarcations.

Another citizens’ group, Citizens for Bengaluru, has been helping people with medical aid, says Chitra Venkatesh, a member of the group. Meanwhile, individuals like Varun Agarwal, who lost his brother Mayank to the disease, channelled their grief by helping others. The 32-year-old started the Mayank Agarwal Memorial Fund, which raised aid for debt-ridden families.

Similarly, citizens in Indiranagar have been involved in holding vaccination camps to inoculate as many as they can. Sneha Nandihal, city-based activist and member of Indiranagar Residents’ Welfare Association, says that the group organised a vaccination camp on Saturday and vaccinated nearly 1,200 people.

Another city-based activist Zia Nomani, who is a member of the Law and Policy Research Institute, has been donating ration kits to refugees of the Rohingya Muslim community in the city. “The refugees have been given a Right to Live in the nation, otherwise there is no state that is looking after them. They are technically stateless and thus with the help of Khalsa Aid, we have handed out dry ration kits to them. Through CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds, we have also managed to distribute food kits to homeless children in the city,” the activist adds.

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