They are feeding lakhs of vulnerable citizens facing the brunt of the virus outbreak.


New Delhi: Non-government organisations (NGOs) are playing the role of the government’s helping hand across the country, in feeding lakhs of vulnerable citizens facing the brunt of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Even private individuals and several newly formed small groups of like-minded individuals are chipping in to help these thousands of people on a daily basis to ensure no one goes hungry for even a day.

Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman, Akshaya Patra, told The Sunday Guardian: “We have been addressing the concerns of the poor, especially in providing food to them upfront. We at Akshaya Patra Foundation are committed to extending the same passionate service to feed lakhs of poor in this time of the Covid-19 crisis. We have distributed more than 6,00,000 food bags to the vulnerable sections. These food bags which contain rice, edible oils and other similar food items have enough food material to feed all family members of the recipients for a week.”

“The foundation will further work on food distribution and around 1.33 lakh people and their family members will be benefited from the food given by us. We have been getting support from generous business families too. For instance, Infosys chairman Narayana Murthy, his wife Sudha Murthy and their family have come forward and donated Rs 10 crore from their personal funds into the Akshaya Patra Foundation’s account for carrying out food relief distribution during the lockdown period. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has already been serving cooked meals to the poor and students in schools,” Madhu Pandit Dasa said.

Many crowd-funding platforms have also joined the hands of the government in feeding people amid the lockdown situation. A similar platform, Milap, has come forward to help the people from the vulnerable sections.  “The crowd-funding initiative of Milap is committed to helping the poor and marginalised sections of the society at the time of the virus crisis,” a statement of Milap reads.

Another Delhi-based organisation Goonj has also come out to help the poor and migrant people facing problems due to the lockdown across the NCR.

Meanwhile, the recently formed “Magadha Mitra” group has already dealt with 50 distress calls from Delhi NCR in the last 6-7 days, helping about 200 people through their network of volunteers and personal contacts spread across Delhi. Abhishek Ranjan, one of the volunteers of “Magadha Mitra”, told The Sunday Guardian, “We have been getting requests on our twitter account as well as our WhatsApp numbers. We then inform our local volunteers who then help in delivering the required ration which includes dal, atta, rice, oil, salt etc, to the people. To some who do not have the possibility of cooking, we are also helping them with cooked food.”

Manish Singh, who had contested the Delhi election from Delhi Cantt constituency on a BJP ticket, has also set up a food helpline contact centre where he has been helping people reaching out to him in distress.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Manish Singh said, “I have been trying to help as many people as I can. We are reaching out to all distress calls we are getting through our network on the ground. Upon receiving a call, we try to find out what exactly is the need—in some cases many need ration, while many need food, so on the basis of that, we try to deliver it to the person.”

The Hari Nagar BJP candidate from Delhi, Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, has also set up an army of volunteers on his own to help the needy at this time of the hour.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Bagga said, “I have been getting around 100-200 requests everyday and I try to respond to each and every SOS messages that I receive. I am trying to help through my friends and well-wishers that I have in parts of Delhi. I am also taking help of the BJP volunteers and the BJYM karyakartas; they are also helping us reach out to the people. As soon as a message is received, I try to connect to the volunteers from that particular district and through their help, the ration and food is delivered to the people.”

Other NGOs that are helping in feeding the hungry people include the Robin Hood Army (RHA) which has an already established widespread network of volunteers across the national capital.

Rachit, who is heading the Delhi Chapter of the RHA, told The Sunday Guardian, “The RHA is helping each and everyone in need of food. We already have tie-ups with restaurants and at this time, several good Samaritans are also coming forward to help us with cooked food. We get requests and based on that, our volunteers are intimated and they pick up the food from the required place and deliver it to the people in need. So far, we have been able to help hundreds of people and we will continue to help.”

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