Published: 03rd April 2020
How this Mount Carmel student and team are helping Bengaluru's homeless and cops find food and fortitude
Noor Zahira is an Arts student from Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru. She along with her team of 11 members have been providing food and masks to the poor people on streets and in slums
Clapping for the people who are on the front line and working every day to fight COVID-19 is not enough. One must fulfill the essential requirements of the poor and needy, is what Noor Zahira, an arts students from Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru believes. She says, "In a city like Bengaluru, there are thousands of poor people who live in the slums and various localities and homeless people live on the streets. With the lockdown, it is these people who are impacted the most."
For more than two weeks, Noor and her team of eleven, who are students and doctors, have been going around the city to provide the necessary groceries to the poor who stay in the slums and readymade food items to the people who have been living on the streets. She says, "We have divided our team into two groups. While one group distributes groceries in the first half of the day, the second group goes in the evening. Once the first group returns, they will report the areas that they have not been able to reach. Only then, the second group leaves to distribute food and necessary items."
So what does their grocery kit include? It includes rice, dal, tumeric, salt, oil and a few other essential items that are a must in everybody's kitchen. Similarly, the ready made food for the people who sleep or live on the streets include cake, biscuits and bread. When we asked Noor about the number of families they have distributed food to, she says, "I think we have covered more than 500 families and this initiative is to serve humanity at this point. Usually, other people in my team do keep a count on the number of people they were able to visit for that particular day. I note down the areas that we have been able to cover so far."
Apart from providing food and grocery, Noor and her team have been making masks and selling them for free to people. "These masks are made of a woven cloth and people at our homes stitch them in thousands. Unlike other masks which can be used for a time and disposed off after few hours or a day, this mask can be used at least five times. One can wash them when they are dirty and reuse them. Each mask of this type would cost us Rs 25 but we know that poor people can't afford to buy those masks from the medical shop. Hence, we have distributed masks even before we could start with distributing food."
This group of youngsters are not only compassionate towards the poor but also our police force which has been working restlessly without taking a single day's leave. Noor explains, "From the time of COVID-19 outbreak, it has been a tough time for everyone. Therefore, whenever we distribute food and masks, we give it to the police constables who stand on the roads under the scorching heat of the sun. They are only here to send us home so that we remain safe. Several times, I observed that even these policemen don't use masks. They use those plain kerchiefs or a cotton cloth to cover their nose and mouth. But they forget which part of the kerchief might have been used or might be dirty. Hence, we give them masks for free and sanitisers also. "
Some of Noor's team consists of people who have worked during the recent Delhi riots and a few other incidents that landed people in trouble. Hence, they know how to draw strategies, execute them systematically and guide the team. "We will continue our work post COVID-19 and plan to provide N-95 masks in the coming days. Fortunately, my parents and friends have been supportive towards this initiative and help us in all the ways they can," concludes Noor who rushes to distribute food to people.