The fine arts of giving
When the Lockdown was announced, life suddenly came to a standstill for 35-year-old Pri Shewakramani, a marketing consultant for several brands including a domestic food delivery startup Scootsy. Sitting idle at home, Pri was reading about the plight of migrant workers caught unawares by the sudden lockdown and tried to do her bit by donating money to an organisation that was involved in taking care of the migrants. Suddenly a thought struck her and she realised that with restaurants shut, lot of chefs would be free at home while others wouldn’t even have access to basic food.
“So I thought, why not use people’s time effectively? It will help them learn something and give them the chance to help others too,” says Pri, a resident of Mumbai.
She immediately ran the idea by chef Pooja Dhingra among others and everyone was excited. And that’s how Quarancharity was born. An innovative way to do charity, it involves online classes in everything from cooking to exercise and personal styling with experts as teachers and the money raised goes to NGOs helping people and animals in distress.
“Thanks to social media platforms, we see a lot of videos of people learning new dishes, new skills and even doing online workouts,” Pri explains. “But what if you could continue all this fun and still help someone else?”
Live and learn
When Pri ran the idea by chef Pooja Dhingra, Pooja immediately committed to doing the first session for Quarancharity. The well-known vlogger and content creator Scherezade Shroff, better known as Sherry Shroff, came on board as a co-founder.
Almost every expert Pri phoned agreed without a fuss to take online classes for the charity. And then among her friends and colleagues, Pri found several volunteers. Quarancharity was on a roll.
The classes have been taking place online for a little more than a week by now. The cooking classes are by chefs like Pooja Dhingra, Kelvin Cheung, Pablo Naranjo and Prateek Sadhu; there are workout sessions by Yasmin Karachiwali, Tanvi Mehra and Sohfit; styling sessions by Mohit Rai, interior consulting sessions by Ashiesh Shah and Anjali Mody, discussions about fashion between Anaita Shroff Adajania and Guarav Gupta and Sujata Assomull with Shivan and Narresh, and make-up sessions with Savleen Manchanda.
It took a few days for people to understand the concept, says Pri. “At the very first session we had with Pooja Dhingra, only about 8-10 people attended – they were confused and thought they simply had to donate. So it took us a few days to clear up the misconceptions. Then the sessions by yoga expert Tanvi Mehra and pilates by Yasmin Karachiwala had a good turnout, and chef Kelvin Cheung’s session went really well because he taught basic stuff like french toast, fried rice and cookies,” says Pri.
Show me the money
The money raised by Quarancharity goes to the NGOs Goonj, Habitat For Humanity and AAC. To make the process smooth and transparent, they have a tie up with Ketto who created a new microsite for the donations.
All sessions are conducted for one hour through the Zoom app, which can accommodate a 100 people at one time. Whoever donates first gets to attend. The make-up and styling sessions only accommodate up to 40 people to allow each attendee to get as much personal time from the expert as possible.
When Quarancharity was started, the aim was to raise Rs 15 lakhs. By now, however, they have raised 19.35 lakhs and the classes were to continue till 15 April. “With the lockdown extending I think we would continue for a longer, duration too. In any case, the NGOs say the economic situation may be bad for a longer time and people may still need our help,” says Pri with a smile.
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From HT Brunch, April 12, 2020
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