By Sanjana Bhatla
I reach out to Mother
‘Food?’ I ask
Tears spring into her eyes
Which she tries so hard to mask
I start wailing
And mother tries to stop my cries
Which are only worsened
By that rich boy nearby, eating fries
Why is it
That some have so much food to eat?
While there are others like us,
Who are left hungry to weep?
The coronavirus pandemic has forced all of us into a lockdown, which has not affected everyone equally. While most of us are living comfortably, with enough to eat, and a roof on our heads, not everyone has such a privilege.
To help such people dwelling in our city slums, fellows from the School Change Makers Programme devised a plan to supply food rations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is their plan of action.
Firstly, volunteers will be recruited through social media promotion and posters. These volunteers will be awarded certificates of participation. Since such campaigns call for significant fieldwork, volunteers will have the choice of whether or not they want to undertake this. Required precautions will be taken, and volunteers will be provided with masks and sanitisers.
Next, one person will be in charge of one slum area, and all grievances will be reported to them. There will be routine checks to ensure that every family has enough food.
An emergency hotline will also be established so that anybody in dire need of food can reach out to the volunteers for help. Government permission will be taken before going to these slums, and the volunteer in-charge will be accompanied by someone else for safety.
The stakeholders (people affected positively) in their campaign include small shop owners, slum dwellers, volunteers, and artisans from small villages.
Acknowledging that there are both merits and demerits to their plan, the students listed both. While their campaign will help people in emergencies, reduce hunger, and help small businesses gain work, these tasks are time-consuming, expensive, and require a lot of volunteers. There’s also a chance people may fake emergencies and hoard grains.
However, the students noted that the benefits of this campaign far outweigh the costs.
The campaign is largely based on donations and personal investments. To attract more donors, this campaign has been made non-profit. Out of the donations received, 5% will be used for basic commodities like fuel and transport. The rest of the money will be used for buying the rations and supplies.
One of the students conducted a survey on whether people would be interested in participating in this programme – and while people were willing to do so, they were reluctant to do fieldwork.
Regarding their growth prospects, Rs. 30,000 would mean about 10 volunteers covering 2 slums; Rs. 50,000 would mean 15 volunteers and 5 slums; and Rs. 70,000 would mean 25 volunteers covering 10 slums. If the growth of this initiative is as written above, the projected growth rate stands at 66.7%.
Such initiative by the youth is encouraging and much required, especially in trying times like these.