Bengalureans help fight Cyclone Gaja blues

Bengalureans help fight Cyclone Gaja blues

Members of The Blue Umbrella packing relief material in the city for those affected by Cyclone Gaja in Tamil Nadu.

A group of Bengalureans are playing a vital role in facilitating relief efforts for those affected by Cyclone Gaja in Tamil Nadu.

The Blue Umbrella is an initiative by a few like-minded individuals from the city to provide distress relief support in various parts of the country. The group anchors various initiatives to support social causes.

The Blue Umbrella came together during the Chennai floods of 2015 where they mobilised close to 45 trucks of relief material, along with volunteers. The group raised funds, collected groceries, woolen, clothes, sanitary napkins, water and other essentials.

What sets Blue Umbrella apart is the fact that it runs on WhatsApp -- an example of how social media can fuel change. The group has over 160 members who at the time of calamities pitch in by fundraising, collecting relief material and mobiising relief efforts on the ground.

“We identify a local resource and coordinate the relief efforts. Many of our volunteers travel with trucks filled with relief material,” said Saravanan Arumugam, an entrepreneur and co-founder of The Blue Umbrella.

Madhuri Kumar, a jewelry designer and co-founder of the group said, “The Blue Umbrella stands for protection and healing in times of distress as the colour blue is associated with healing.”

“We also faced issues like intervention by some groups and agencies that hindered our efforts towards intensifying our reach. We plan to create a database of local resources, important contact centres and persons, government agencies and circulate them to facilitate immediate help to those affected during calamities,” said Arumugam.

“Going forward our plan is to register The Blue Umbrella as a not-for-profit organisation focusing on facilitating disaster relief operations and other social causes ,” added Madhuri.