Who knew you could turn into a hero just by staying at home? All you need today is a cloak of invisibility draped over your most earnest intent to step out and you’ve got yourself some superpowers.
But some have taken it a notch higher by leveraging their expertise to help in these testing times. Imagine turning your truest passions into purpose. Sure, it takes courage. While we laud doctors, policemen, and every frontline warrior for their perseverance and support, professionals from other walks of life have also chosen to join the bandwagon – in whatever capacity they deem fit. Chefs are now serving food to the poor and stranded, entertainers are raising funds, social workers are aiding the older citizens and neighbors are well, looking out for neighbors.
Heroes have risen in this dark time, ordinary people doing extraordinary things wrapped in the armor of their abilities. And they deserve a special shoutout. This pandemic has brought out the best in people; here are a few champions on our watchlist…
Hero #1: Richa Shrivastava & Vaibhav Chhabra
Maker’s Asylum is an innovative ‘making space’ for artists, thinkers and engineers. The founders Richa and Vaibhav explored this concept to adjust to the pandemic. These creative geniuses built an innovative, yet super-easy protective equipment to fight coronavirus. Their M-19 Shields are being used all over the country to prevent the spread of infection via face and eyes. “Originally the shields were made for healthcare and frontline workers. But now we’ve been making these for babies, kids and the general public as well, since everyone needs to be safe,” says Richa.
Quarantined at work, Richa and her coworkers have been in their labs since March 23. “We love our space, so it was really fun to be here and keep making. It was a common purpose that drove us, and none of us chose to go back home. Makers are going to keep making and adding value in this crisis,” she adds.
Hero #2: Sherry Shroff & Pri Shewakramani
Marketing consultant Pri Shewakramani and our beloved vlogger Scherezade ‘Sherry’ Shroff co-founded Quarancharity – an uber-cool charity platform where you can take classes conducted by celebrity experts and donate a little something in return to NGOs fighting against the virus. “I realized that a lot of people with great skill sets were sitting at home, like chefs and trainers from gyms. All these skills were possible to teach in a virtual format.” says Pri. Even her partner agrees, “The overall response has been great, people are interested in learning. We have had fashion students attend to get access to people such as Anaita Shroff Adajania, Gaurav Gupta and Manish Malhotra. Even from a photography standpoint, Joseph Radhik and Joshua Karthik’s smartphone photography class has been such a hit that they are now doing it weekly,” informs Sherry.
Entertainment weaved into goodness, now that’s our kind of social work.
Hero #3: Riddhi Mittal & Girish Khera
Riddhi Mittal, a tech wiz, co-founded COVIDIndia.org, a knowledge-sharing website that gathers and publishes data about the pandemic. It also holds fundraisers to aid the government battling the crisis and supplies protective equipment to frontline workers. She calls the website a ‘war room’ since it has an active task force of over 500 volunteers and a network connecting every state. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Riddhi mentioned, “The volunteers bring such diverse experiences… some I couldn’t have imagined even in my wildest dreams, from election management to social work.”
Thinking of volunteering from your couch? Sign up to this website and find a way to help out.
Hero #4: Rupesh Repal
The Corona Warriors’ Transporter
Now here’s a hero’s hero. Rupesh Repal, a Mumbai-based autorickshaw driver, fetches and ferries doctors, nurses, policemen and civic officials completely free of cost. He works through the day, transporting healthcare workers to their jobs, and helps people during health emergencies as well. His auto can be identified from a distance with ‘Free Auto Service’ written on it in bold. His motto is to help as one can. A lesson we all ought to imbibe, eh?
In an interview with the FPI, he says, “This is a tough time we are in and we all need to stand together. Doctors and civic officials don't have frequent means of transportation to reach their destination. I am helping in whatever way I can.” A classic case of small-gestures-make-a-big-difference right in front of us. So much so that even the Maharashtra Cabinet Minister, Aaditya Thackeray was moved. “Aaditya Thackeray called me and applauded me for my work. He told me to continue with my work and provided me his personal number and told to get in touch with him if I need anything,” he quipped excitedly.
Charity begins at home, right? So does care. Mahita has taken a leaf out of that book and really soared. For her, it all began with helping a few friends’ parents who lived in her city. Just bringing them groceries or taking them to the doctor’s clinic whenever required. But what came next was something beyond her wildest dreams. She took to Facebook to reach out to people who were away but had family in Bangalore to ask if they needed someone to look after their elderly parents living alone in the city.
She received a whopping response, which has now turned into a Facebook page. A page where people not only request for help, but also volunteer to help. In a tweet, she said, “Across India, over 6000 requests have been fulfilled to date. And we have 35,000 volunteers.”
Kudos to this community builder!
Are you pained by sight of strays and abandoned pets on the streets? Restaurants have shut, so leftovers are scarce. People aren’t on the streets so it’s hard to chance upon wounded, sick animals. It’s no surprise that this lockdown has been a disaster for our furry little friends. But that’s where The Pawsome People Project comes. It goes out of its way to aid stray animals and abandoned pets with food and shelter in Coimbatore and nearby areas. “Stay safe and stay sanitized, everyone! We’re all in this together, and that includes our pets as well,” their Instagram page urges.
It deserves a standing ovation.
This renowned NGO has started a project called Rahat Covid-19 , that identifies a large number of daily wagers out of jobs and trying to return to their villages. They’ve reached out to the most marginalized communities in India like sex workers, rural schools and farmers. Aside from helping them with their basic needs, Goonj is also gearing up to take on the aftermath of this pandemic.
The progress they have made so far is phenomenal. Their relief efforts in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkota and Mumbai range from providing ration kits, support community kitchens to catering to the ignored or stranded migrants. So far, they’ve reached out to 25,000 families, provided 97,000 cooked meals with a ration worth 3,45,000 kgs. Phew!
While this may seem like a lot, they still have a long way to go. So… a little nudge won’t hurt, guys. You can go to the website and sign up as volunteers or donators.
A bitter pill to swallow has also been a spate of suicides among the elderly plagued by loneliness, depression, illness and lack of care. Who would have thought the helpline, of all things, would emerge as a saviour?
The Dignity Foundation runs a helpline for seniors in cities like Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Chennai. New Delhi is the latest addition thanks to Shivendra Kumar to have ‘adda’ sessions. The modules have moved programmes online and by logging in through Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp, senior citizens can now take part in quizzes, music recitals and reading sessions daily between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Kumar has a set of volunteers who aid 110 senior citizen members in Delhi. He says, “These seniors can no longer go for walk to the garden or simply visit a neighbor. Thanks to these volunteers, many have learned how to use smartphones, and some have even progressed to watching cookery shows on YouTube.” Talk about a senior moment – albeit, with pride this time!
Nykaa thanks you all!