The power of social media: Strangers across India connect to help the needy
With the nationwide lockdown imposed in India due to the coronavirus outbreak, the families of daily wage earners, labourers, waiters, taxi and autorickshaw drivers, and others who depend on their everyday earnings for survival have been severely affected.
In the corona stricken world, social media is helping people come together to reach out to various organizations pan India and even establish new ones to feed the hungry.
Caring Indians, a crowdsourced social initiative has been providing food, PPE kits and masks to residents of Mumbai and Pune. Samarth Sharma of Caring Indians, says, “The need of the hour is to help people. With a significant social media base, my friends and I thought of this initiative.”
Sharma, an IIT alumnus, says, “With the lockdown in place, people have been spending a lot of time on social media. Our initiative has been possible only because of social media and my loyal fan base that helped me with spreading the message. Social media in such times has emerged as a big influencer in itself. We managed to feed 35,000 people in a week.”
Venapani Seksaria, founder, Shakkar Paara project who has been carrying out relief missions across India, says, “There are people who I haven’t ever met in my life and yet we have become a big family and have forged an unbreakable bond through social media.”
Venapani says, “ The Shakkar Paara was an emergency ration project started by the army and i had heard many stories around it during the Kargil war. That inspired the idea behind my project , to distribute shakkar paaras to the hungry, to help them experience satiety and sustain energy. It evolved over time because of feedback from ground, to supply groceries and toiletries to the affected communities. However I retained the name of there project as it’s sweet, comforting and energy giving in these times.”
She adds, “Whether social media or word of mouth, it’s transparency and accountability that draws people to contribute to such causes. With people coming out and helping, both financially or on ground, it makes us realise that at least our hearts are in the right place.”
Through her project, Venapani wants to feed everyone who is hungry, whether it’s the daily wage workers, labourers, auto-rickshaw pullers or bar dancers in Mumbai. She adds, “We are also distributing groceries and toiletries to all people impacted by the pandemic.”
Many NGO’s and self-help groups have used social media to share images of the happy faces, letting people know how even the smallest donations have put a smile on someone’s face. One such group is Roti Bank. Sudhir Behrani, founder, says, “Social media has played a vital role in garnering support for the cause of these migrant workers and daily wage labourers. As ration involves a lot of logistics, we stick to cooked food. The happiness you get by seeing people come together for a noble cause is a different feeling altogether.”
Jan Jagriti Foundation has also been helping people with dry ration. Nutan from the foundation says, “Indians are always willing to help. One post from a social media account for help and you have hundreds of people willing to come forward and help.”