Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
The 25-year-old Manipur cyclist has been known to pedal for a cause. Whether it is to spread awareness on humanity or pollution-free environment, Philem Rohan Singh has always been embarking on mile-long journeys with intent.
When the coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed in March, Philem was reportedly on his way to Japan to be a part of a campaign by the Paralympic Committee of India which was themed 'inclusion dignity and respect'.
But his trip was cut short and he had to return to his home state due to the on-going COVID restrictions.
According to IndiaTimes, Philem encouraged his friends to join him and together they began distributing food items to the needy and the homeless who were left with no resources amid the lockdown.
The team has been helping at least 30 homeless people who have been surviving on the main market of state capital, Imphal including drug addicts and differently-abled, for the past three months on a daily basis.
"Since late March, we have been providing them with food, at least one meal a day for the homeless. But now since the lockdown has been intensified and there is the fear of community transmission of COVID-19, we are struggling to reach them every day," Philem said.
According to the cyclist, the team has spent more than Rs 3 lakh for feeding the homeless. He stated that donations have been part of the fund but the majority of finances have been raised by the activists themselves.
"After I reached out to many politicians and ministers, they have made some contributions in their individual capacity. I also have a logo T-shirt called 'Cycling for Humanity' with a hashtag of service without salary. We sell the t-shirts to whoever is interested and raise the money," he said.
The team with its 20 volunteers which includes nine more cyclists are involved in the distribution of the food for the needy.
"We go out on our cycles every day looking for the hungry. We have identified some 30 of them who we feed every day and there will be others who also we see on the streets and feed them," explained Philem.
He said that there was another group of volunteers engaged in preparing the food to be distributed, but due to the fear of the spread of the virus, they were unable to do it and so the team had to come up with another solution.
"We had another team that was mostly doing the cooking, but now due to the restrictions, they are not available. So we identified five homeless people who could cook. We provide them utensils and other necessities and dry rations, which they prepare themselves," he said.
Highlighting that his team needs the government's assistance, he said, "We will continue to feed them, but there is a limit for what we can do. What if the COVID-19 situation gets worse and we are not able to reach these people. I am more concerned about them than us. We have been trying to get some government help for them. I hope that they can do something for the homeless."
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