Bhopal: The scourge of Covid-19 pandemic which has brought the world to a virtual standstill and pinned down humanity with lockdowns has also some silver linings. Many NGOs, social organisations and few individuals realising the pains of have-nots, stranded migrant workers and underprivileged sections of the society have come forward to satiate their stomach’s gnawing experience.
As elsewhere in the country in Bhopal too these good Samaritans are leaving no stone unturned to see no one is left out and sleeps hungry. There is healthy competition between them to reach out to more and more people and hand them cooked food packets and in some cases kits of grocery items with some cash for a week, 10 days or even a month. The beneficiaries are mostly daily wagers, migrant workers, destitute, beggars etc.
In various locations of Bhopal and its outskirts total 91 kitchens are operative feeding several thousands of people in need following the inception of the lockdown in the city. It is heartening to see that Muslim youth volunteers are excelling in service to humanity. They are competing with each other in a healthy competition especially in the holy month of Ramadan to outdo each other in order to seek divine help from the Almighty Allah hereafter on the day of Judgement.
MLA Arif Masood
Local MLA Arif Masood, from Bhopal Madhya constituency in Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, is funding 14 kitchens in various localities of the city being run by his fans club supporters. Cooked food is being distributed to nearly 18-20,000 people daily irrespective of the caste, creed or religion. Similarly, another local MLA Arif Aqueel, from Bhopal North constituency, is not far behind and extending all help to needy to fight the lockdown and Coronavirus pandemic. Mohammad Ahsan Imtiaz, retired Indian Navy personnel, residing in Khanugaon, a semi-urban area of the city, is funding ration for the have-nots of the locality by authorising a grocery merchant to provide necessary items every week to the people who approach him for their requirements of two square meals a day.
JIH Bhopal unit in forefront
Jamat-e-Islami Hind, (JIH), Bhopal unit is in the forefront as it is providing relief to affected countrymen due to Covid-19 lockdown since 27th March 2020 till 9th May 2020 worth Rs.62,16,498/-. The details of the relief are: Daily 10,000 cooked food packets, 2,150 Ramadan ration kits & 21,300 Kg. Wheat & Rice grains having been distributed to the needy people. These statistics were revealed by Shakeel Khan, In-charge of JIH, Bhopal Unit.
In Bagh Farhat Afza Colony which is ward 41 of the city, under the leadership of Qazi Asifuddin for last one and half a month cooked food is being delivered at homes to people who can be counted as underprivileged class.
NGO Humble Heart
Meanwhile, a newly formed NGO christened as “Humble Heart” led by Zenul Khan came up into existence soon after the lockdown was announced to feed the hungry mouths.
Afreen Khan, an associate of “Humble Heart”, says: “With COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown that followed, we realised that we may not be getting affected by hunger during this time of despair. However, there are so many people out there who may not have eaten a proper meal in the last few days. These are the daily wage earners who lost their livelihood and now have no means to survive. With that in mind we started a chain to feed destitute and to supply ration to poor families. Many people with the helping heart have joined our cause and are now helping at various stages like cooking, food packaging, food distribution etc.”
The Humble Heart has provided 12213 food packets, 2594 vegetable packets and 2425 ration packets up till now to needy people. The group is also feeding 50+ street dogs and 20+ cows daily.
Apart from Zenul Khan and Afreen Khan the other associates of Humble Heart include: Yasir Farooqi, Yawar Khan, Kaif Azhar and Hassan Ali Khan.
Another voluntary organisation known as “Helpbox” has started “Donate one meal” campaign wherein Bhopalis can feed one hungry person for a day, a week, or throughout the month, depending upon their paying capacity.
Sunil Awsarkar, brand ambassador of Helpbox says: “As part of the campaign, we request people to prepare food for one person, with five-six rotis, a bowl of rice, daal (pulses), and some vegetable curry, and donate it to a poor they see around their house, or delver the packet to Helpbox, so that we can give it to the needy. Many people have responded to the call and happily started in this campaign as preparing for one extra person does not upset their budget”.
Bhopal Food Loversgroup
Meanwhile, the Bhopal Food Lovers group is famous for its potluck events across the city but when the time came the members didn’t even think twice to help the people in need out. A member of the group transformed his commercial kitchen into a community kitchen and since then lockdown the members have been feeding more than 300 needy citizens of the city.
Member of the group Prabdeep Singh says: “We have been cooking along with the staff of the hotel. We have purchased rice which will last till the designated lockdown period and have been making dishes like Khichdi and Tomato rice. To avoid contact with many people we have collaborated with the nearest police station that come and pick up our food packets and distribute. If someone contacts us we increase the quantity of the packets as well.”
Madhya Pradesh Samaj Seva Sanstha in collaboration with Bhopal School of Social Sciences, (BSSS), and Bhopal Municipal Corporation, (BMC), is running a campaign to cut the chain of Covd-19 and care the needy. As part of the campaign, dry ration kits are distributed to most vulnerable families on the outskirts of Bhopal. The families of migrant construction labourers numbering few thousands, who hail from different parts of the country, are residing in various construction sites and labour camps also received dry ration kits. Mapping of these families were jointly done by BMC and BSSS.
A community kitchen has also been setup in the premises of Ayyappa temple in Bairagarh Township on the outskirt of Bhopal. The kitchen is distributing 2000 packets of food through Bhopal Municipal Corporation in the areas earmarked by the District administration.