Volunteers doing their bit for home-alone elders

Volunteers doing their bit for home-alone elders

As lockdown kicks in, groups of young people are running errands for seniors who need medicines and essential supplies

Young Bengalureans are forming groups to help the elderly and the handicapped get essential supplies during the lockdown.

Caremongers India is an initiative that began with the lockdown announcements. Mahita Nagaraj, digital marketing professional, received calls from friends in the US and the UK to help with medicines and groceries for parents living alone in Bengaluru. She felt others might also need help and reached out on social media.“I put it up on my Facebook, just for my friends to see, but I soon started receiving calls from other people too. The post became so popular that my friends from other cities also started doing what I was doing. So we named it Caremongers India,” Mahita says.

Content writer Aishwarya Subramanian is volunteering with Caremongers. Her mother lives alone in Chennai. When the announcement for a lockdown came, she thought of her mother and decided to look out for others like her who might need help.

“I just put out a tweet asking people if they needed some help and it turned out quite a few did. The other day I went to a hospital to provide lunch. I made sure I was well-covered and carried my own sanitiser,” she says.

Social media initiative

A Facebook group called ‘Not Alone’ has been active since March 23. Abishek Bhonsle, who started the page, says the group helps seniors living alone buy groceries, food, and medicines. It has about 129 volunteers in just two days.

“I am glad to see many people coming forward to help,” he told Metrolife. Those who need help and those volunteering can post on the page.

Rescue experience

Phanikar H P, business development manager and a resident of Sanjaynagar, has been a part of several voluntary groups that reach out to people in distress, and he is now part of the Facebook group. He and his friends had participated in the rescue and rehabilitation during the Kerala and Chennai floods in 2018. They not only took part in the rescue but also went around collecting essential supplies to be handed over to people in affected areas.  

Phanikar has now joined hands with Abishek. “We feel there are many elders who might not be able to go out. We want to help them so that they don’t feel helpless and left out,” he says.

If seniors require medical attention, volunteers will bring it to the notice of medical practitioners who are part of the group.

“We were out there during the floods, so we have enough experience to understand what needs to be done during emergencies. We wanted to help during the Nipah virus outbreak but didn’t have a clear picture about what was to be done. But now, we want to help by taking all the necessary precautions ourselves,” explains Phanikar.

The group will be using gloves and maintaining hygiene at all times.  “Even when we hand over groceries, we make sure that we don’t come into any physical contact with the elders,” he says.

North Bengaluru

Artist-couple Deepa Bhasthi and Nanaiah C R live in the northern part of the city, in Vidyaranyapura. They are volunteering with the group as they have found many retired people needing help with short errands. “It’s one burden less on the elderly if we help them with what they may need during this time, especially because the advisory clearly states that older people must remain indoors and be safe,” says Deepa. They plan to cover areas near their home, Sahakarnagar and Yelahanka. 

Volunteers, not food delivery people

In just over a week, Caremongers India has received 1,000 calls. It now gets 300 to 400 calls a day.

The group caters to senior citizens, the physically challenged, and anyone who has an infant under one year.

“Not all calls we get are genuine. Many call to use us like Swiggy or Zomato!” says Mahita Nagaraj, who initiated the group. 

The group tells people not to call in any kind of emergency. “The callers need to understand that volunteers take time,” she explains.

Most deliveries are handed over at the security or left at the doorstep. “We have to be cautious too,” she says.

Young volunteers in the city

* ‘Not Alone’ initiative  
Abishek Bhonsle can be contacted at abishek.bhonsle@gmail.com
(Areas covered: Hanumanthnagar, Basavanagudi, R T Nagar, Sanjaynagar, Kammanahalli, Babusapalya, Banaswadi, Jayanagar, Yelahanka and Devanahalli. 

* Caremongers India 
The helpline number is 95911 68886
(Areas covered: All over Bengaluru)

* Aishwarya Subramanian
She can be reached at Twitter handle @Hyper_aice
(Areas covered: Jayanagar, JP Nagar, Koramangala)

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