India — At a time when social media are flooded with desperate pleas for help to find vacant hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen, and other facilities, concerned citizens are stepping in to provide resources ranging from oxygen cylinders to cooked meals to families battling the infection.
Anupriya Singh (Anna), a 42-year-old designer who doubles up as an aggregator of home chef services, recently formed another network of home chefs operating through WhatsApp groups to cater to Covid-affected families.
“Right now, everyone knows someone or the other who is down with Covid. Seeing the situation, I started reaching out to home chefs so that we could cater to more people and save on crucial delivery time and expenses. As of today, we have over 120 chefs who are serving Covid-affected families. Every day, I create a new list of home chefs who can provide services in different parts of Delhi,” said Singh.
She said nearly 40 chefs are joining the network on a daily basis, with requests for food pouring in from different quarters.
“We are not allowing the chefs to price their thalis above Rs.150. Some chefs are ready to deliver food for free, but recipients insist on paying for it. Money from such services will be used to start a fund through which we plan to support the needy,” said Singh.
Within the neighbourhood, chefs are relying on services of friends or security guards to deliver food to families whereas services of app-based aggregators are being availed of to deliver food to far-off addresses. “Some chefs are also sending their family members to deliver food. People are stepping out to make deliveries themselves despite the severity of the prevailing situation,” said Singh.
Ankit Gupta, 28, an Urdu poet who has been living in Delhi for the past year, has been using Twitter to connect those seeking Covid-related help. Gupta said concerned individuals have been using Twitter as a platform to respond to calls for help. “Through social media, we have formed a network of volunteers who are reaching out to hospitals and government officials so that patients can be admitted or provided services at the earliest,” said Gupta.
Besides queries related to hospitalisation, Gupta has also been receiving requests from those who are hassled by the curfew restrictions. On Monday, Gupta delivered packets of cooked meals to around 1,000 people near Kashmere Gate. “Due to the lockdown restrictions, people have lost jobs and are unable to pay for food or rent. Through social media, we raised money and were able to help such people,” said Gupta.
Aryaman Bhatnagar, a resident, is among those who are using social media to verify crucial information and compile resources. Bhatnagar said the network was started on WhatsApp by citizens.
“We provide verified leads and credible information — pertaining to bed availability, oxygen, and medicines — to those in need. There is a lot of information doing the rounds of WhatsApp and other platforms but, most often, the information is either false or the numbers are not working. Our aim to make sure that a person in need can get verified information on one common list or link,” said Bhatnagar.Follow us on Social Media
Send in your scoops to firstname.lastname@example.org