By Pervez Bari & Samuel Mathai
BHOPAL: The scourge of Covid-19 pandemic that brought the world to a virtual standstill and pinned down humanity with lockdowns has some silver linings too. Many NGOs, social and welfare organisations and individuals in the City of Lakes, realising the pains of the have-nots, stranded migrant workers and the underprivileged sections of the society, have come forward to extend a helping hand to them.
The ‘Good Samaritans’ of Bhopal are leaving no stone unturned to see no one is left out and sleep hungry. There is a healthy competition among them to reach out more and more needy people and hand them cooked food packets, grocery kits and cash. The beneficiaries are mostly daily wagers, migrant workers, destitute and beggars.
At various locations of the walled city and its outskirts total 91 kitchens are operative feeding thousands of people in need since the beginning of the lockdown.
It is heartening to see that young Muslim volunteers are excelling in their service to humanity. They are in a healthy competition, especially in the holy month of Ramadan, to outdo each other in order to seek divine blessings from the Almighty.
MLAs Arif Masood & Arif Aqueel
MLA from Bhopal Madhya constituency, Arif Masood, is funding 14 kitchens in various localities of the city being run by his fans and supporters. Cooked food is being distributed to nearly 20,000 needy people from these kitchens.
Similarly, MLA Arif Aqueel from Bhopal North constituency also extending all helps to the needy to fight the lockdown and the Coronavirus. Mohammad Ahsan Imtiaz, retired Indian Navy personnel, residing in Khanugaon, is funding for ration for the have-nots of the locality by authorising a grocery merchant to supply necessary items every week to the people who approach him.
United Malayalee Association (UMA)
United Malayalee Association (UMA), a well-known social and welfare association of Keralites in Madhya Pradesh, has been associating and extending support for the community kitchen run by Ayyappa Temple, Bairagarh, & ABASS for providing food to the needy people at this crucial time.
Moreover, UMA, in association with Jayshree Food Products, has been supplying food packets to the attendants of patients at Jai Prakash (1250) hospital. Besides, the association has distributed kits containing ration items at selective places to the needy people.
JIH Bhopal unit in forefront
Jamat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) Bhopal unit is in the forefront in providing relief to the lockdown affected people. The unit so far has spent Rs.62,16,498 in the supply of relief materials. Daily 10,000 cooked food packets, 2,150 Ramadan ration kits & 21,300 kg wheat & rice have been distributed to the needy people, according to Shakeel Khan, in-charge of JIH Bhopal Unit.
In Bagh Farhat Afza Colony in ward 41, under the leadership of Qazi Asifuddin, cooked food is being delivered at homes of underprivileged classes since last one and half month.
NGO Humble Heart
A newly formed NGO ‘Humble Heart’ headed by Zenul Khan has announced to feed the hungry. Afreen Khan, an associate of the Humble Heart said, “With COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown, we have realised that though we may not be getting affected by hunger, but there are people who have not eaten a proper meal for days, especially the daily wage earners who lost their livelihood and have no means to survive. With that in mind we started a chain to feed and supply ration to poor families. Many people have joined us and helping at various stages like cooking, food packaging, food distribution etc.”
The Humble Heart has provided 12,213 food packets, 2,594 vegetable packets and 2,425 ration packets till now to needy people. The group is also feeding 50+ street dogs and 20+ cows daily.
Another voluntary organisation ‘Helpbox’ has started “Donate one meal” campaign, wherein people of the city can feed one hungry person for a day, a week or a month.
Sunil Awsarkar, brand ambassador of Helpbox says, “As a part of the campaign, we have requested people to prepare food for one person, with five-six rotis, a bowl of rice, daal (pulses), and some vegetable curry, and supply it to a poor they see around their house, or deliver the packet to Helpbox, so that we can give it to the needy. Many people have responded to the call and happily started preparing for one extra person”.
Bhopal Food Lovers group
Meanwhile, the Bhopal Food Lovers group is famous for its potluck events across the city but when the time came the members didn’t even think twice to help the people in need. A member of the group transformed his commercial kitchen into a community kitchen and since the lockdown the members have been feeding more than 300 needy of the city.
A member of the group Pradeep Singh says, “We have been cooking along with the staff of the hotel. We have purchased rice which will last till the designated lockdown period and have been making dishes like Khichdi and Tomato rice. To avoid contact with many people we have collaborated with the nearest police station that come and pick up our food packets and distribute. If someone contacts us we increase the quantity of the packets as well.”
Madhya Pradesh Samaj Seva Sanstha
Madhya Pradesh Samaj Seva Sanstha, in collaboration with Bhopal School of Social Sciences (BSSS) and Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC), is running a campaign to cut the chain of Covd-19 and care the needy.
As a part of the campaign, ration kits are distributed to most vulnerable families on the outskirts of the city. Thousands of migrant construction labourer families, hailing from different parts of the country, residing in various sites and labour camps received dry ration kits. Mapping of these families were jointly done by BMC and BSSS.
Vision Education Evam Samaj Kalyan Samiti
Vision Education Evam Samaj Kalyan Samiti, working in the field of education and social welfare in Bhopal, is also not far behind in helping the needy people. During the lockdown period the Samiti has supplied ration kits to needy families in the city and in some villages in Chambal area including Shivpuri. The society has supplied ration kits including 10 kg rice, wheat flour, sugar, tea packet, oil, dal, soyabadi, salt, chilly, coriander powder, turmeric, soap, potato and onion.
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