The Covid-19 pandemic has created a state of panic across the country. Especially in Maharashtra, as the state tops the list with the most number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases at 52 (as of 20 March 2020).
The state government has urged people to continue to self-quarantine and work from home. Yet, in these deeply testing times, several citizens have found themselves at the shorter end of the stick. Especially vulnerable senior citizens and people who have been stamped or issued letters to ‘self-quarantine’ to ensure safety but have no one to help them.
Several people have come forward to share their grievances about running out of essential groceries and vital medication. Many have been unable to step out to buy them, fearing the risk of infecting others or getting infected themselves.
In a heartwarming gesture that reinstates the spirit of Mumbai, city-based NGO, Project Mumbai has reached out to create an army of volunteers to deliver groceries and medicines to people in need.
Speaking to The Better India (TBI), CEO and founder of PROJECT MUMBAI, Shishir Joshi says, “I have been an active part of the process of looking at what can be done during this critical time. And though the Municipal Commissioner’s task force is already working in several areas, I felt that we as citizens have to step up and plug the gaps. Several people have returned to the city from different countries, tested negative but placed under mandatory home-quarantine.
“Also, senior citizens living alone are the most vulnerable of the lot, even if they do not have a history of travel. And for most, the question is, if they do not step out, where will the basic groceries and important medication come from? We want to plug this gap. Our effort will ensure those under home quarantine do not feel compelled to venture out to obtain essential supplies, thereby reducing the risk of infection to others.”
Explaining the initiative in detail, Joshi highlights the following points:
-The volunteers will not charge a penny for the delivery. It is free of cost.
-No request will be accepted without verification.
How will they validate genuine cases in need?
People under mandatory self-quarantine have to send a picture of their stamp and their letter over WhatsApp. When the case is verified, they process the request further. In instances where the person may not have an MCGM or municipal certificate, the team asks for boarding cards as evidence.
The volunteers extending their support will be given masks to ensure their safety.
There will be no physical contact at the time of delivery. To avoid contact, exchange of cash will be avoided, so the person in need has to make the payment online to Project Mumbai, who will then settle it with the retailers who supply the requirements.
Requests raised for medicines:
The delivery of the medicine will happen between 24-48 hours of the person raising the request. Ever since the social media post highlighting the campaign has gone live, an e-pharma retailer has come forward to aid Project Mumbai.
The person in need will have to submit their request, a photograph of their quarantine letter/stamp and the prescription. The Project Mumbai team will then get in touch with the e-pharma facilitator and ensure the medicine reaches the address.
“The E-pharma company that we are in talks with currently, has a large network not only in Mumbai but also in India. So this will help us scale the initiative to provide medicines anywhere in India.”
Requests raised for groceries:
“Considering that those under home quarantine will start running out of groceries in a few days and will be under isolation for no more than 14 days, we are working with retailers who have shown interest in making sealed food packages. These packages will come in two sizes – serving two and four people. These will contain essentials like wheat flour, rice, dal, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, biscuits, oil, salt, sugar, spices etc. Our volunteers will deliver them to the homes of the verified individuals and vulnerable senior citizens”
How can you help?
Project Mumbai is looking for foot soldiers who can become a part of their army of volunteers to help people. If you are in Mumbai and willing to help, write to Shishir at email@example.com. Don’t forget to add your full name, contact number and your location.
“For initiatives like these we owe a lot to the fantastic champion volunteers who have supported Project Mumbai always. It’s been less than 24 hours since our campaign went live and it has received an exceptional response. I urge volunteers to please come forward and join us to help Mumbai in these critical times. Your help will ensure that we reach out to those in need as soon and as effectively as possible, while not posing a risk to those around them,” appeals Joshi
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)