In an effort to control the spread of COVID-19, India has been under a nationwide lockdown since March 24. While many of us have the privilege to protect ourselves and continue to work, the lockdown has left lakhs of people without a livelihood. With no means for work or money, many, especially the daily wage earners, are struggling to make ends meet.
Amid this crisis, several individuals and organisations have come forward to help those in need. One such individual is Debayan Mukherjee, who, through his Facebook campaign - HundrAID - has been raising funds to help those in need. Hailing from Kolkata, the 30-year-old works as a Senior Cloud Analyst in Accenture, Bengaluru.
"I have started this campaign thinking about the known daily wage earners in my area (Sarjapur main road) After the lockdown, I was helping the people I knew in small shops - cobbler shops, cigarette shops, etc. When I went out on March 24, the situation was never like before in Bengaluru - the roads were empty and all the small shops were closed. I thought that we are working from home and we are getting whatever we want, but, what about these guys? So, I contacted few of them and they told that they don't know what to do these days," Debayan Mukherjee tells The Logical Indian.
"They were scared, I have seen the pain in their eyes which moved me to do something for the people, for our people, for India. I came back home and posted on Facebook and that's how it all began. The movement was started by me and was also followed by so many of my friends in Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru," he adds.
That day, he reached out to his Facebook friends to donate an amount of Rs 100 each for providing ration to families of daily wagers suffering due to the lockdown. As donations started pouring in, Mukherjee soon started the Facebook campaign "HundrAID" with his friend Debottam Basu.
"Our basic criteria was that they should not go foodless, whatever they came for they should achieve that and they should again start continuing their work after the lockdown. So, for that, they have to be alive. So, our basic concern was that they at least have to food," says Mukherjee.
Through the campaign, the team has been collecting funds to provide ration to the underprivileged families. So far, they have collected nearly Rs 3.8 lakh to support over 3,500 people mostly in Bengaluru, and some in Kolkata and Murshidabad.
"Daily, we connect to the local police station to get to know what are the areas that need ration, where the migrant workers are staying, slums, etc. Based on that, till now we have done surveying and distribution to over 3,500 people," says Mukherjee.
In Bengaluru, a team of 10, including, Mukherjee, goes out daily to help the families. The families are provided with ration kits that can last them for nearly a week and contain 5 Kg rice, 2 Kg dal, 1 kg potato, 1 kg onion, 250g tea powder, 1 kg sugar, 1 kg salt, 3 packets of noodles, four-five packets of biscuits, one soap, and spices.
The team has also helped a few of the migrant workers to go back to their hometowns. "After May 3, the situation has changed. In the few places we surveyed, the people are saying that they don't need food, but want to go home. So we talked to the Police and helped a few of them with the proceedings for train tickets," says Mukherjee.