Dombivli, May 30,2020: It all started with a request for help from 3 members of a family in Rabale, Navi Mumbai on 13th April 2020. Since then, there has been no looking back. A month has passed and we have traversed from 3 to 3000+ individuals. VSM’s Serve Hungry Drive has been able to cater to 3077 Indians in need with daily essentials like groceries, medicines and milk through a meticulously designed procedure following all lockdown norms. The journey till now has brought with it lots of challenges, hurdles, learnings, solutions and upheld the spirit of unity and humanity.
These times have been really testing for various underprivileged sections of the society, daily wage earners being the most affected. In this journey, we have been able to provide help to migrant workers and the urban and rural detitutes. We could reach out to the homeless children rehabilitated by Jeevan Samvardhan Foundation Ashram School and the orphans at Nandadeep Foundation orphanage (Read this story here ). Help could be reached out to the 124 individuals of 20 families from Vikhroli - Mumbai (Read this story here), Differently-Abled in Wadavali village (Read this story here ), Dombivli, Rural Students from Ved Pathshala in Goa, apprenticing youth near Kalyan (Read this story here ) and tribals from remote areas of Palghar and Raigad districts.
Once we started receiving more of such cases, it was the need of the hour that we had a structured systemic response to serve them with empathy, dignity and discipline at the same time. A team of our volunteers was setup with our senior experienced karyakarte as key co-ordinators. Volunteers were instructed to patiently attend to every call with greetings and understand the necessities. This had to followed by identity verification of beneficiary using Government approved identity proof. Once the requirement has been mutually defined, beneficiary had to go to the grocery/medical shop, share payment details of the shopkeeper and bill on WhatsApp for cross-checking and payment. All documents necessary to the transaction had to be stored for future reference.
Around 80+ volunteers have been putting in efforts to close such genuine cases with commitment and sense of duty. With such digitally co-ordinated effort, we have been able to turn around individual cases in 2-3 hours. We have closed 300 such individual and cluster cases till date. The challenges are different for cluster cases. Essentials have to be arranged for and distributed among large number of people adhering to safety and social distancing norms. Identity verification for such a large number also has to be carried out. In many cluster cases, ground co-ordinators approached us like Swayamsevaks of Sangh Parivar, volunteers of Sahakari Dhanya Pedhi, RSS-Jana Kalyan Samiti, Adhyatma Vichar Prabodhini Seva Sanstha, Palghar to ensure grass root connect to geographically diverse regions like Karjat, Javhar, Vikhroli, Kalyan etc. This adds up the time required to complete cluster cases to about 2-5 days.
We have served 10 such cluster cases till date, which are as follows:
At several points during this drive various like-minded organisations have helped us out in reaching out to the needy, especially in cluster cases. The cluster case from Vikhroli involving 124 individuals was brought to us by volunteers of Sahakari Dhanya Pedhi, Vikhroli. SDB facilitated entire on ground identification, data collection, grocery kit distribution. Whereas Shivaji Maharaj America Parivar(SMAP) readily offered the funds for this requirement. RSS- Jan Kalyan Samiti also helped us out in this effort. Similarly, Adhyatma Vichar Prabhodini Samajik Seva Sanstha ensured on ground distribution for Palghar cluster case involving 70 families.
This entire exercise has been possible due to prompt response from our donor family. Donors have enthusiastically responded to our appeals and made available the funds necessary for the drive. Our donors from abroad have taken additional pains to ensure contribution reaches us only in Indian currency Rupee. It is this goodwill and spirit of giving back which makes us better humans even in the hour of crisis.
One of the pillars of VSM has been the ability to harness technology to achieve scale and efficiency while contributing towards social good. In VSM’s Serve Hungry Drive too, our volunteers have banked upon this ability. The entire payments process from donor to VSM and that from VSM to the grocerer/shopkeeper has been carried out through digital mediums. Our intention has been to reach out to maximum people with adequate validation and verification. Our volunteers have employed Database Management tools,online verification of Government approved identity proofs, Location verification of beneficiary through location tracking tools for the same. Data Science applications have been used for effective beneficiary and donor tracking and overall monitoring of the drive.
These figures, the story bear testimony to the gravity of situation out there. More people await help and hope to reach them. We are committed to reach out to as many people in need as we can. Our journey continues…!!