[May 13, 2021: Sahana Iyer]
As the coronavirus thrives off the complacence we paraded in the early part of the year, the sounds of sirens and the cries for help have only turned louder since 2020. Desperate pleas for oxygen, medicines and vaccination slots have become dominant everyday conversations. Amid this raging chaos, while the role of healthcare industry intensifies, it is the non-profit sector that has as always stepped up, providing relief material and ration for scores of families affected by COVID- 19.
And one such NGO doing their part is Aranya Foundation that recently started a free service to deliver fresh meals at the doorstep of COVID-19 patients. When health is compromised, even the simpler things in life a good meal, for example is a stressful task, be it for a homemaker and their family or someone living alone. Shilpam Kapur Rathore, founder of Aranya Foundation, witnessed this firsthand when the virus kept her friend confined to the bed. “She had to quarantine in a room in her house. That’s when I realised that many are affected by the lack of a homemaker’s presence in the kitchen.
They end up ordering in food, which may not necessarily aid in recovery and healing. It is a fifteen- day struggle. Since the foundation has experience in providing nutritious, healthy, simple meals, we thought we’ll start this for COVID-19 patients free of cost,” shares Shilpam. With this intent, through her Foundation, Shilpam is providing 2,000 meals a day to the patients and their families in Kilpauk, Anna Nagar, Nungambakkam, Mylapore and Adyar.
Patients can contact their helpline handled by four professionals one day in advance and place the order. Simple, healthy food like sambar and rice, variety rice with pickle, or tomato rice prepared by 18 people at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas, is packed in a disposable container and delivered to customers via Delhivery. The raw materials for the meals are funded by the donations received by the Foundation. On May 11, their first day of the initiative, the Foundation received requests for 1,500 meals.
Besides following the hygiene protocols, offering fresh food is a non-negotiable for Shilpam. All the kitchen workers are equipped with hairnets, masks, and gloves, and have taken the RT-PCR test. This is the Foundation’s second initiative during the pandemic. Last year, at the time of the lockdown, they aided citybased class 11 student, Arnav Rathore, in providing a week’s worth of dry ration to the homes of 800 senior citizens free of cost. They also distributed over 20,000 meals to migrant workers in Chennai with the help of Radha Soami Satsang Beas.
Their work has no borders. With Delhi gasping for breath owing to the dearth of oxygen cylinders, the Foundation organised a bus with 10 oxygen concentrators for the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. “I feel all of us have the power to make a change. When I started out on my mission of Annandhanam in 2015, I just made one meal for one woman on the streets. Then she said there are so many like her. I made 20 and then realised there are 100. It’s a moment that sparks a movement,” says Shilpam. Amen to that!
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