These good Samaritans help keep up the spirit of Mumbai during Coronavirus outbreak
“There is an anonymous saviour that feeds the four stray dogs in our building and the ones down the street as well. Only the watchmen are familiar with him. He brings rice and chicken and other packaged fresh food for Rihanna, Snowy, Zoe and Lucy, and then drives away in his car,” says Pooja Bhave, 27. The ‘saviour’ she is referring to is 47-year-old Krishna Yadav, who has been one of the many in Mumbai to help feed stray animals. After Member of Parliament, Maneka Gandhi’s message to help the strays, many circulated the message on social media and even started putting out food and water for them. Yadav, who has been a driver by profession, has been feeding the strays in Bandra East, where he lives, for nine years now. “After I get done with my shift, I head out to feed the dogs. I make 72 packets of rice and chicken, sometimes I throw in a chicken foot or two,” he laughs, admitting that he only feeds dogs and doesn’t have the budget to feed cats as yet.
Like Yadav, there are others who have reached out to the truly needy during this period of lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Twin sisters, Priyal and Priyanka Shah took inspiration from friends abroad, who reached out to the elderly in their vicinity. Priyal says that a few days prior to the lockdown was imposed by the government, they had been volunteering with the elderly, along with providing refreshments to their building helper staff. “A lot of senior citizens are living alone now without helper staff, as they have gone back to their respective houses. So, we get them their medicines, groceries or even drive them to the temple,” says the Malabar Hill-resident.
A community approach
From random acts of kindness in their vicinity to reaching out to people via social media, good Samaritans have brought out the generous spirit of Mumbai even in these tough times. When some of us are busy stockpiling, non-profit organisations like SNEHA are working to improve healthcare for women, adolescents and children in marginalised slum communities. “We have over 500 staff and consultants working from home, reaching out to our communities through over 8,000 community-based volunteers, to pass on information on Covid-19, in addition to our regular health counselling,” begins Vanessa D’Souza, CEO of the organisation. SNEHA works across slum communities such as Dharavi, Wadala, Govandi, Mankhurd, Malvani, Kurla and Kandivali, as well as the Metropolitan regions of Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Vasai-Virar, Mira-Bhayandar, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi-Nizampur, and Kalwa. Admitting that internet connectivity is still a problem, D’souza adds they have taken the help of “community influencers” to dispel myths about the virus outbreak. She says, “We have reached out to Maulanas of mosques in Malvani to reach out to the community to create awareness and pass on messages on Covid-19.”
After PM Narendra Modi’s announcement on the night of March 24, that extended the lockdown in the state to a three-week pan India one, non-profit organisation, Project Mumbai, got a flood of volunteers. Through their outreach programme the organisation is doing home deliveries of medicines for home-quarantined and lonely senior citizens. Waving off the delivery fee, the organisation only charges for the groceries, but their volunteers are also providing home-cooked meals to senior citizens in need. Being operational since 2018, Project Mumbai also has 50 trained counsellors working pro bono on call. Shishir Joshi, CEO of the organisation, says, “The curfew has restricted our movement but citizens’ responses have been positive.” Just like their tagline — which reads, Mumbai ke liye kuch bhi karega — they reinforce the spirit of Mumbai.