Bengaluru: The pandemic, with its quarantine, isolation and lockdowns, has made running a household extra difficult – particularly for those who are Covid positive and for senior citizens. But it has also brought out a spirit of community and the intent to help. In Bengaluru, that help sometimes arrives on a cycle. The city’s Relief Riders are often out on their bicycles, delivering the much-needed help to those home-bound due to Covid. Simi Matthew, who works with an NGO, told NDTV,
We all have bicycles. What we do is we pitch in to deliver essentials like medicines and groceries and ration. These are times when people are not able to get out, especially the sick and elderly. We are able to do sorties between morning 6 and 10 am when the curfew is not happening. We pick up rations and medicines and go deliver it to them within that time.
Reema Vazirani, another Relief Rider, stressed on the fact that the team members were following Covid protocols.
“We are taking precautions to ensure that we are not spreading Covid by doing this,” she said.
We are all volunteers who have come together. We all have our day jobs and we do this in addition to that because it is something we believe in. We are about 200 volunteers who have come together in the city of Bangalore. We started this in the first wave when the shutdown happened. And we have come back in the second wave to do this. This time we have been able to help more people. We have reached out to over 500 people.
Some of the volunteers joined the initiative having themselves gone through the difficulties of dealing with Covid isolation and struggling to cope without a helping hand.
Hrishikesh Deodhar, a software engineer said,
I recently recovered from Covid, roughly 20 days ago, and thought I should give back to the community. I faced some hardships during that time with medicines or general food delivery because my entire family was affected. I thought now that I have come out of it, I should help somebody else to come out of it.
In addition to helping with food and medicine delivery, the group also helps elderly citizens with issues like paperwork involved in hospitalisation or even recharging of their phone. But the main focus of the initiative is delivery of food and medicine.
Sagar, who works on the project said,
We are giving them a ration kit that last 7 to 8 days. And a medical kit that has vitamins. Ration kit has rice, dal, rava, rasam powder, oil and all necessary things that they need for 7 days.
Many Infosys employees have contributed money towards this service, which is now active in nine cities across India. An added bonus – all the kilometres the initiative has clocked so far are all green miles, since cycles have zero carbon footprint.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.