In an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, 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 migrant workers, are left scrambling for basic needs.
In these trying times, several NGOs have been tirelessly working to take care of those in need. And it's the volunteers from across the country who are helping these organisations with everything from mobilising funds to reaching out to the most-affected on ground. One such group of volunteers is iPledge.
iPledge is a nonpolitical/nonprofitable group of volunteers taking an initiative to serve the most impacted lives in the society due to the pandemic. They work as a support group to their friends who are working on-ground to extend provisions to those worse-hit by the coronavirus crisis.
So far, team iPledge has delivered essentials worth more than Rs 4.5 Lakh including feeding more than 3000 families, over 600 PPE kits, and sanitizing public areas.
"Through individual efforts and registered organizations our friends have taken the charge to serve humanity on-ground, in this unprecedented crisis. We are putting all possible efforts to raise funds for their groundwork and save as many lives as we can," Manik Goel, admin/fundraiser of iPledge, tells The Logical Indian.
Goel got together five of his friends and formed the group in the first week of April. While they have previously done several campaigns to contribute towards various social causes, due to the lockdown, many couldn't go on ground. This dilemma prompted the friends to start a fundraiser.
For this, they started the iPledge group on Facebook, where they challenged people to 'take a pledge to fight COVID-19 together.' They asked the people to contribute any amount they could to those distributing ration, daily essentials, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)s and sanitising the neighbourhoods.
"We give choice to donors on our page. Whatever they would like to do, we have given all the payment channels. We don't accept any donations at our accounts, but, we ask them to donate directly to the organisations or the individual who is working," explains Goel.
"We have around 500 people in our group. We have been constantly updating about the ground work. We have been conducting all these live sessions as well from our friends who are working on the ground so that people in the group, who have donated, can know how their funds are being used and what exactly is the ground situation," Manish Bharadwaj, admin/fundraiser of iPledge tells The Logical Indian.
With the funds they raised, they have been supporting their friends on the ground, who work within their individual capacity or under an organisation.
"So far, we have been able to collect more than Rs 4.5 lakh. From that, we have been able to feed more than 3,000 families. Through Voice of Taxpayers org, we have been able to provide 600 plus PPE kits, and we gave funds to Rahis for sanitising public areas in Delhi like different schools where the migrants are staying, police booths, police barricades, etc," says Bharadwaj.
"As a team, we believe that anyhow we are suffering from corona a lot, but, let's not let others die because of hunger. That is the most critical problem and due to the lockdown it has drastically increased," says Goel.
Through their on-ground volunteers, the team has provided food to over 3,000 families.
"One of our ground volunteers, Prerna Prasad, started supporting the migrants who where walking from Delhi to UP border. In the first two days, she helped around 1,000 families. She then went to nearby areas in Kaushambi and Ghaziabad, where she has been helping families who had lost their work," says Goel.
In Agra, Akash Jain, another volunteer, is supporting the underprivileged families by providing them with dry ration, which majorly constitutes flour and rice.
The group is also associated with two NGOs - Pehchaan Live Foundation and Sukarma Foundation.
"Pehchaan Live Foundation works on the holistic development of the underprivileged children. Afsana Perveen founded the organisation and now they are supporting 100 plus families whose children were studying under their informal education centres in Bihar and Mumbai. They are supporting around 50 plus families each in parts of Mumbai and Bihar," says Goel.
Through Sukarma Foundation, founded by Maya Vishwakarma, iPledge is supporting villages in Narsinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh. They are supporting migrant labourers who are walking from another district to their home by feeding them and giving hygiene kit which includes sanitary napkin, mask, soap, detergent, and hand wash detergent. They also support the most needy families living in the villages and are unable to go out due to the lockdown.
In a bid to support healthcare workers, the group is also supplying PPE kits.
"In Pune, we have our friend, Alisha Butala, who is working with Anjali Damania's group for raising the funds to arrange PPE kits. They provide these through the Citizen Task Force chapter under Voice of Taxpayers org," says Goel.
The group has supplied over 600 PPE kits across hospitals working for COVID-19 in Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, Rahis Khan is working with the government to sanitise public areas and a few residential areas. They have sanitised over 50 petrol pumps, 15 police stations, and over 30 government night shelters, among others. All the areas are sanitised twice a week.
Going forward, the team is planning to help raise funds to support stray animals.