A Message of Hope: How We Helped Several in Old Delhi With Ration

Here’s my story of hope, honesty, and humanity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated02 Jun 2020, 12:15 PM IST
My Report
4 min read

The coronavirus lockdown, imposed 25 March onwards, has highlighted several stories – from migrants travelling home on foot to the poor struggling to make ends meet. However, in these incidents of collective distress and shared pain, brotherhood amongst people stands out as it is the citizens who have come forward to help their fellow countrymen.

Now that the lockdown is over and we chart our course back to normal lives, I wish to tell my story of hope, honesty, and humanity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On 6 May at around 10 pm, there was knock at my door. A small kid, around 10 years old, handed over a chit to me had his mother’s phone number and their house address. He lived close to my home in Old Delhi.

He handed me the chit and said, “I live here in your neighbourhood, My parents are finding it difficult to manage ration in these times.”

The note given to me by a young boy.
The note given to me by a young boy.
(Photo Courtesy: M Mehtab Raahi)

I asked why he had to ask for help and not his parents. He told me that my parents were feeling shy to ask for help. This incident triggered something. With close to one and half months of no income and small savings, I realised that several such low-income families would be struggling to make ends meet.

This began a campaign with focus on those who are not able to make money in the pandemic or those who weren’t able to go to sites where food was being distributed. These were not migrants or homeless, but families who had lived in Old Delhi across generations.

I posted a photo of the chit on WhatsApp to my heritage walk group DelhiByFoot. Fortunately, help poured in. Along with eight others, all penniless but spirited, we start a campaign called ‘Help the Hungry’.

Ration packets ready to be distributed.
Ration packets ready to be distributed.
(Photo Courtesy: M Mehtab Raahi)

The eight of us had our own responsibilities, like making ration kits or distributing them. One person collected the chits while the other made a comprehensive list and verified details.

I gave that list to my heritage walk group too, who helped me raise contributions and helped in reaching out to NGOs and donors through their networks.

Ration kits being made.
Ration kits being made.
(Photo Courtesy: M Mehtab Raahi)

We were able to arrange ration kits that had flour, pulses, sugar, oil, onions, potatoes, tea, salt/spices, soaps etc. The contents were changed slightly as per an area’s needs.

Two days before Eid, we added dried coconut, dry dates, raisins, sevai, etc; so that people can make sweets on Eid and feel some happiness in tough times.

A door-to-door survey helped us identify a list of people from two to three alleys and residential katras.

Distribution drive in Old Delhi.
Distribution drive in Old Delhi.
(Photo Courtesy: M Mehtab Raahi)

Around 70 such families were in need of regular help as long as lockdown continued.

Around 70 such families were in need of regular help as long as lockdown continued.
Around 70 such families were in need of regular help as long as lockdown continued.
(Photo Courtesy: M Mehtab Raahi)

But being locals, they were hesitant to ask others for help to avoid being seen as beggars or poor in their own area. A sense of certain dignity, which is typical for locals, stopped them from seeking help.

Help from All Quarters

Jamghat, an NGO that works for street kids, pitched in to send ration for 50 kids and their families. We were fortunate to receive 90 kits from Ankit, who runs Kisse Kahaniyaan.

We started distributing on 11 May. Word spread quickly and people from other areas – local, low-income, residents of Old Delhi – same group and same situation, gave us chits. With chits piling up, we had a task in our hands. We did another distribution on 13 May, and realised that more people needed help.

Distribution drive to families in Old Delhi.
Distribution drive to families in Old Delhi.
(Photo Courtesy: M Mehtab Raahi)

We used WhatsApp and social media networks for getting contributions. To our surprise, these contributions were not limited to Old Delhi. People from as far as Maharashtra and Hyderabad also helped.

Lists maintained of the recipients.
Lists maintained of the recipients.
(Photo Courtesy: M Mehtab Raahi)

Our intention to help (with only one document) was successful. Support never stopped in terms of cash or ration. There was someone who donated money worth 60 ration kits, another worth 30 ration kits without even knowing who they will eventually help.

This has been a huge achievement for us. A group not having any association with any NGO and no experience in raising money for causes were able to help so many.

(The author is a heritage activist from Old Delhi. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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Published: 02 Jun 2020, 10:50 AM IST

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