Published: 01st April 2020
This 16-year-old Chennai high school boy has created a team to deliver essential food to the elderly
Arnav Rathore works with the help of his parent's NGO and police permission to deliver basic food to the houses of the elderly free of charge
Since March 25, India has been on a country-wide lockdown in response to the novel Coronavirus outbreak. Young, able-bodied people with immunity have found themselves locked down in their houses for the first time. While many Generation-Z champions have resorted to social media shenanigans to pass their quarantine time, a few like Arnav Rathore have decided to put their high spirits and able bodies to good use.
Arnav Rathore is a Class 11 student of MCTM International School in Mylapore, Chennai. He says, “This is a testing time for all of us. With the COVID-19 epidemic, our cities are under lockdown and lifestyles have been compromised. Inspite of everything the government is doing, more help is needed. We are generally low on resources. Imagine what it is like for senior citizens who are living on their own or away from their children? I knew I had to do something about it.”
It was a newspaper article that opened Arnav’s eyes. Thanks to the fact that his parents run the Aranya Foundation, an NGO that focuses on food distribution and community awareness, Arnav found it easy to lend a helping hand. As the first order of business, his parents asked him to create a proposal addressing the issue and create an action plan on how he planned to contribute and support the elderly.
FOOD FARE: Arnav works with his parents' NGO, Aranya Foundation
When his parents started to spread word about the plan, a number of people reached out hoping to support them or to avail their help. Arnav says, “The idea was to provide those people who are extremely vulnerable with a basic food bag delivered to their doorsteps with supplies for 7 days for 2 persons including items such as rice, pulses, spices, cooking oil, sugar and milk powder.”
Arnav collects food rations from donors and from the Aranya Foundation’s storage spaces. All the collected resources are stored at a wholesale market in Sowcarpet. The delivery process is free of cost. Arnav received the support of other volunteers from the Aranya Foundation. With the permission of the police, they are able to visit the locations where delivery is required.
From March 26, a day after the lockdown was declared, the team started their work in areas like Mylapore and RA Puram. On their very first day, they had only a total of 4 orders. However, just a day after, they started to receive more than 30 calls for help. Arnav emphasises on the need for sanitation. All volunteers strictly wear masks and gloves. All the food packets are also sprayed with sanitisers.
On the first day, Arnav was ecstatic to learn how thankful people were. He says. “We can’t even imagine how scary it must be to be an elderly person or immunocompromised at a time like this. No one should go hungry or suffer because we overlooked their needs. We are doing the least that we can, it does not cost anything.”