No one in this country was immune to the repercussions of COVID-19 that India witnessed during its second wave. While authorities even in the highest echelons of governance might have been too late to smell the coffee and take proper action, it was the common citizens, specifically the youth, that took charge and spearheaded the movement to achieve what most authorities failed to do.
One such story is of Ayanat Foundation, a student-led organization from Delhi that is conducting virtual events and fundraisers to gather money for COVID-19 relief in India.
Founded by 15-year-old Ayira Vij, Nikhil Mehtani, Sahil Chopra and Mayank Veerwani, Ayanat has gone a long way in organising funds through a very innovative initiative. "We've been receiving donations constantly and people have been responding well to our initiative, and we might reach an amount of Rs 1 lakh in a few days," says Ayira.
The four students first started their COVID-related work by verifying medical leads, and forwarding them to the people in need, something a majority of India's youth was doing at the time. Dubbing this initiative as their "COVID-19 Task Force Wing", founder Sahil Chopra talks about how the team used to work each day from 11 am to 6 pm distributing leads to people individually, and also sharing posters with relevant information on their social media
Sahil Chopra, one of the founders of the virtual fundraiser initiative talks about the challenges they endured along the way and says, "We received an overwhelming response for this from the people who benefitted from our leads. However, even though we might have saved 10 lives, the truth was that we had also lost 2-3 other lives. We identified the problem to be a lack of funds, and hence collaborated with the Hemkunt Foundation."
The team has managed to recruit a whopping 400 volunteers aged between 13-18 by sending appeals on social media and rallying teenagers towards this cause.
This is when the team decided to break out of the ordinary and start doing virtual fundraisers by organising workshops. Their events are scheduled to last from June 11 to June 16, with events such as music, poetry, gaming nights, art competition, rap battle, mimicry and beat-boxing. The funds raised through these would directly go to Hemkunt's COVID relief fund.
"The motive of these events was to bring joy and knowledge to the participants," said Chopra.
They have had people like stand-up comedian Amit Tandon, cyber security expert Rakshit Tandon, and others like advocate Anand Grover who has been engaged in activism related to homosexuality and HIV in India. He was also one of the lawyers who fought to decriminalise section 377 in 2018. Apart from this, their events have also had guests like influencer Avanti Nagral and Rapper Maddy.
They have managed to rope in sponsors as well, and have partnered with several other NGOs like Kiran, Kartavya, and Nav Jeevan Prayas Foundation.
Ayira hopes to keep raising more funds towards the initiative and keep reiterating their message and goal in all of their events.
If you wish to contribute to this initiative, you can make a donation through their website.