Across Mumbai, housewives have been churning out snacks, professionals donating money, blankets, tents and medicine, e-entrepreneurs setting up crowdfunding initiatives and businessmen pitching in with funds to help the victims of the devastating earthquake in Nepal.
“One of the gestures I found most touching was when a car cleaner named Garib Pandit donated Rs 1,100 to buy food for Nepal,” said Nimesh Shah, 49, a Sion-based businessman and a volunteer with Navyug. “We just sent out WhatsApp messages on Friday, and by Sunday morning our small, informal collection centre in Sion was flooded.”
Last week, Navyug reached out to caterer Subahu Lohia to ask if he could make theplas to be sent as food aid. They had money donated by citizens, they explained.
Lohia promptly SMSed all his 500 customers to say his tiffin service would be suspended for three days. In that time, 25-year-old Lohia and his staff of 10 made 12,000 theplas.“My clients not only agreed to the suspension, many of them SMSed saying they wanted to pitch in too, with funds, food and medicines,” Lohia said.
Among them was Nidhi Kalakal, 26, a final-year medical student working at Sion hospital.
“My husband and I got together with a few friends and collected Rs 45,000, with which we bought syringes, needles, painkillers, anti-malaria and anti-diarrhoea medicines and cough syrups for children,” said Kalakal.
The relief material has been sent to NGO Gokul Vraj Foundation (GVF), which is aggregating donations from across the city at a 2,000-sq-ft space in Ghatkopar. The space has been offered free of cost by the Brahman Samaj, since April 27.
GVF has tied up with NGO Seva Bharthi International’s Nepal branch to distribute the material. Their next consignment leaves on May 5, for Raxaul, close to the Nepal border, from where it will be taken forward via truck.
Individuals are doing their bit too. Ankit Vengurlekar, 32, vice-president of an online media content company, has created a crowdfunding page on ketto.org. “I have appealed people to donate just Rs100 each. The aim is to accumulate Rs1 lakh, which will be given to Dutch NGO Cordaid, which works on disaster relief and management,” said Vengurlekar, who has collected Rs 4,700 in one day.
E-commerce company CEO Amtosh Singh, 27, sent out e-mails to 15,000 of his customers offering to pick up food and medicines. “We collected four tonnes of material, which has been sent out via the youth wing of a local political party, and through photographer Rohan Shrestha, who is of Nepali origin and has gone there to help in the relief work,” said Singh.