The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
By Sirish Govardhan, via UNICEF, Karnataka
Inspiration wasn’t something I had to actively search for because the most inspiring person I know was right in front of me: my mother. Watching my mother as she helped blind people with Braille seeded a deep rooted desire to aid those in need. Another life-changing moment was when at age 16, I pedalled behind a blaring fire engine. An urge to help the affected people made me follow them to the site and lend a hand to the rescue efforts.
It was at this point that I realized that age was never going to be a factor in determining when or how to contribute actively to the community. A few years down this lane, I was offered several opportunities to represent my state at various camps through the National Service Scheme (NSS) and interact with people from across the country. The contentment has been incomparable. Who I am today can be attributed largely to what I’ve been able to do throughout these six years as a volunteer.
Recently, the COVID crisis took the world by storm in an alarmingly vivid sense. Billions of lives are at stake, and as always, the process of safeguarding these starts at the community level. When I saw COVID Warriors fighting it on Ground Zero, it irked me that due to certain issues, I could not stand alongside these people to lend my services.
However, this did not stop me from exploring other ways to help people. I found my answer in the initiative “Bengaluru South Coronavirus Task Force”, set up by the Member of Parliament of Bengaluru South. Being a part of the Task Force meant that I could be a small cog in the wheel towards helping citizens meet their needs during a critical lockdown. These are trying times, and while most services were shut, it became important that I do my best to make sure these citizens got all the aid they needed. Volunteers ran the entire show.
The calls on the specially set up customer care helpline were received by Coordinators who then redirected the queries to a Whatsapp Group of Area-Specific Volunteers who, in turn, ensured that the services were rendered as needed. My area of work additionally included handling queries for providing ambulance services. Sometimes it was even a dialysis patient or someone undergoing chemotherapy who needed them in a busy Covid-19 situation.
The lockdown affected lives in such a way that senior citizens were not allowed to step out and buy essentials like groceries over the fear of high vulnerability. To bridge the gap and minimize the distress, the Task Force created a medium for others in the immediate vicinity to help those in need. We wanted to provide timely support and essential aid to people which in itself has been a wonderful opportunity to be there for the society when it needs us the most.