Meet the Hyderabad philanthropist offering free food and shelter to COVID-19 patients

Prasanna Kumar's outreach to COVID-19 patients has gone viral on social media.
Prasanna Kumar the Hyderabad man offering free food and shelter to COVID patients
Prasanna Kumar the Hyderabad man offering free food and shelter to COVID patients
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Over the last two days, 22-year-old Prasanna Kumar’s phone has not stopped ringing. Ever since he put up a post on Twitter about offering free shelter and food for people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, he has been flooded with calls. The young man and his team have received over 400 calls. They have been asking callers for more details about their situation, hoping to narrow down their resources to those most deserving. 

“We want to provide this facility only to the lowest rung of the society — we want to provide shelter to those who cannot afford an alternative”, Prasanna Kumar told TNM.

The team has three houses shortlisted for housing the patients, one in Miyapur, one in Madhapur and one in Secunderabad. In total, they have the capacity and manpower to house around 60 people. At present, they are informing callers that they do not have the capability to offer medical treatment to patients. All those with symptoms are being asked to go to hospitals for better medical care.

Prasanna who is a philanthropist, dropped out of engineering college and decided to start his own business. Today, he has a software company successfully running n Bengaluru. On account of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been around for longer than usual in Hyderabad. He has been involved with a lot of philanthropic activities in the recent past. He has a team called ‘Every Pulse’ which has 15 young people who are a part of it. They have started the formalities to register the group as an NGO soon. 

Speaking about the latest initiatives taken up by him, Prasanna said, “In 2018, we began our initiatives. We funded the school fees for around 60 students from Hyderabad and Bengaluru, for a year. Then, in January, we had adopted around 15 Thalassemia patients. They need blood every 20 days and they usually struggle to find donors. We took up the initiative to help find them donors. After the pandemic began, we began feeding people. We have fed around 5,000 people in the last three months.”

When asked about what made him think about this idea of providing shelter to COVID-19 positive patients, he said, “We have been receiving numerous requests for shelter from COVID-19 positive patients. Those who can’t afford hospitals are the ones who are worst affected. Many of them who have called me are those from the construction industry. They stay in homes shared with a group of people. When they test positive, they are asked to leave or are thrown out by the landlords. They have nowhere to go.”

Speaking about the challenges he is facing in his efforts, he said, “Financially, I have spent around 12 lakhs so far from my pocket. I have also received small donations from people who know me. I will need a lot of money to care for a lot of people. If the government steps in and helps people like us who are willing to do our best for the underprivileged, it will empower us to do more. Apart from finances, the neighbours around the three houses have raised concerns about housing COVID-19 positive patients. We have had to convince them that it is absolutely safe and that there is no reason to worry.”

Ever since the message was put out on Twitter, people have taken screenshots of the same and have forwarded it on WhatsApp. This has helped reach a much larger number of people. A lot of people have also been calling to check the veracity of the message. 

“Out of the total, around 50 calls I received were checking whether the message was authentic. Though it is energy-consuming, I felt really good that people were calling to check the authenticity before forwarding,” he said.  

The team has been receiving support from many officials in the government too and also from the police. Prasanna Kumar has been in touch with Cyberabad Commissioner Sajjanar throughout his initiatives. Before wrapping up the conversation, when asked if he was worried about too many people in need and limited resources, Prasanna said, “I am not worried at all. There are a lot of good people all around.”

The Logo of the team

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