It has been a tough year for everyone and with fleeting news stories about possible COVID-19 cures and no exact timeline for the same, our patience is only watering down by the day. And while the coronavirus pandemic is our prime concern right now, it has directly or indirectly also led to other largely ignored albeit equally pressing concerns. As the world economy plummeted under the crushing weight of the pandemic, there are so many who have lost jobs and their basic livelihood.
While most of us are all privileged enough to sit in the safe confines of our homes right now, there are those struggling for every morsel of food. It truly is the time for us to realise our collective strength and reach out to everyone and anyone in need amid the current crisis.
For Delhi-based 16-year-old twin sisters, Asheer and Asees Kandhari, it all started at the beginning of the lockdown when they noticed social injustice manifesting in disturbing ways as the underprivileged took the brunt of it all. “We noticed that while most of the people were allowed to go in and out of our colony, garbage collectors were barred from coming in. And these were the people who have been working here for 10-20 years. We felt like it was really unfair,” recollects Asees.
The unjust treatment being meted to the garbage collectors made Kandhari sisters more cognizant of a bigger problem that was beginning to escalate unnoticed. Amid endless reports of migrant exodus and daily wage workers losing their livelihood, the sisters decided to launch their Helpline in order to reach anyone who might be struggling to arrange basic necessities like food, medical supplies, etc. Their friends Aman Banka and Aditya Dubey extended help for the overall operations.
Soon after starting the Helpline, they started getting calls from part-time workers and daily labourers. “We’d get distressful calls with people desperately reaching out for the most basic amenities. Some would tell us that 5 people in their home have been hungry for days,” shares Asees.
It didn’t take long for them to realise that the problem was way bigger than they had fathomed. Asees shares, “When you think of Delhi, you tend to think of a metro city given its the capital of India. The ground reality, however, is very different. There are a lot of slums and suburban areas. We keep getting calls from these areas especially Zhila Khadar.”
To reach out and help everyone that they had been getting calls from, the team then partnered with delivery services like Swiggy, local restaurants, and even college students to help them as volunteers. The sisters are indeed thankful to everyone who readily agreed to extend help and contribute to the cause by roping in as volunteers, cooks, and logistic partners. And while they accepted volunteer support, they refrained from taking any monetary help.
“We mostly avoid taking any donations or cash. We want this money to reach where it is needed.” Thus, if anyone ever reaches out to their team seeking to help those in need through the helpline, they are asked to directly make a payment for the supplies or given the account details of someone who is in need of money. Right from sanitary pads to ration, they have been catering to all kinds of basic demands by the underprivileged as well as those who are too old or medically unfit to help themselves. To date, the sisters have managed to feed over 30,000 people through their helpline as they continue the zealous efforts.
As Asees says, “This is really a test of how all of us work together and collaborate. We just need people to support us and circulate information about our helpline as much as possible. The aim here is to give basic necessities to the underprivileged, something that actually the government should be doing right now. This is really a test of how citizens of the country should work together in this time of crisis.”
Well, if 16-year-old school students can understand this, it shouldn't be too difficult for us to realise the need of the hour and reach out to people who are fighting for their very lives right now.
Seek to help people through Kandhari sisters' helpline? Simply leave a voicemail on +91-9529863506. You can also help by spreading awareness about the helpline and sharing it with those you might need it.
Featured Image Courtesy: Asheer and Asees Kandhari