Last year in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, lay-offs, firings dominated the headlines. COVID-19 had dramatically altered the hiring landscape in India. Thousands have been laid off indefinitely and without compensation.
During the first wave of coronavirus, my colleague and I started a social initiative to help out job seekers and recruiters and launched Covid 19-Free Jobs Forum. We were able to help out 1,200 job seekers get back to the job through this initiative and provided them free courses that help them upgrade their skill sets.
The Inspiration Behind 'Feeding Ones In Need'
This year, due to the lockdown scenario, I was working from home, and I saw my parents supporting a few blue-collar and daily wage workers by providing them with everyday food items, so they do not sleep hungry. That moment left me to think how many families are there who have lost their only source of income and for them feeding their family is getting tougher. This inspired me to start the project 'Feeding Ones In Need.'
Rise Of The Mission
I decided to raise money to help them with basic ration supplies under the project 'Feeding Ones In Need.' I started the project on May 15, initially using my savings to serve more families. I used the platform Milaap to raise funds for this initiative.
Initially, raising funds was a challenge as it was an individual initiative, not backed by any NGO or known organization. So there was no way to prove to the Milaap Platform that these funds will genuinely be used to help the needy. The external factors and situations have also been challenging, where everybody is dealing with higher expenses than their income. Also, the increasing number of scams and frauds in donations and fundraisings added to our challenge. Even in these conditions, I was able to come up with solutions to solve these problems. I am also really thankful to all my office colleagues and close ones who supported and contributed to this mission.
Ration Kits For The Needy
Giving the fight to help altogether cope with this pandemic gave me the urge to initiate rations kit distribution. My father helped me out in sourcing all the necessary items for the ration kits. Each ration kit cost Rs 600 (including transportation cost). A kit includes five kg of atta, one kg of rice, one kg of dal, one kg of sugar, one kg of salt, 200gm chilli powder, 200gm coriander, 100gm turmeric, 250gm tea powder, one refine oil packet. Each kit caters to a family of four for at least 10-12 days. In the first week, I was able to share the Milaap Fundraising link in my network, and I successfully raised a decent amount to start with the first round of distribution of ration kits.
Just after one week, we conducted the first ration kit distribution drive. For this drive, I collaborated with local associations like Jain Social Group Agra helped in identifying and bringing blue-collar families in one place. Besides ration kit, every person has been given a mask and a sanitiser for their day to day use.
During the first drive, we were able to give ration kits to 150 families who have lost their daily source of income. We catered to various sections of society, including old women who didn't have any earning source. At the end of the first ration drive, we noticed that the number of families was more in comparison to the number of kits. We took the contact details of those who missed out and provided them with ration kits later.
By May 31, we were able to get a good amount of contribution and support from various individuals, so we conducted another drive. We put all the ration kits in cars and visited multiple areas in the city to distribute the kits to disabled people, families living under the bridges and rickshaw pullers – the people most affected by the pandemic. Then again, in the afternoon, we visited a few construction sites where we were fortunate to provide ration kits to workers working there. In one day, we were able to serve ration kits to around 200 more families.
Collaboration And Support
#HelpUPBreathe Team supported this mission by providing 50 ration kits for the second round. Then Sandipan Mitra developed brandsome.io, a free merchant identification tool for fintech startups, where he put up this Milaap fundraising link if anybody wished to donate. 'Covid War Room', an initiative by IIIT Hyderabad Alumni, has helped out more than 1000 people to date, and I have been a part of that initiative. They have contributed 1 Lakh for this mission. And 111 donors contributed according to their capacity over Milaap.
Way Forward On This Mission
To date, 450 ration kits were given to various blue-collar and disabled families. Hunger has no religion; it is like other important issues that we can fight together as human beings. Blue-collar workers have always helped us out in making our life easier. Now it's our turn to support our superheroes during this challenging situation. The plan is to keep at least 1000 families in the second wave of COVID.
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