Covid Relief (24 March 2020)
We all started this year with the threat of Covid-19 looming over our heads. Life as we know it, came to a halt and everyone was forced to change their ways to accommodate to the new normal. Face masks, sanitizers, social distancing and self-isolation became the center of our lives. However, these are the privileges enjoyed by only a certain part of the society. We at miles2smiles were concerned about the people; especially in the riot affect areas of North-east Delhi like Shiv Vihar, Mustafabad, Babu Nagar and Chaman Park whose lives were already disrupted by the riots of 2020. Many of them have lost their family members, business, homes. This in combination with the threats posed by the covid-19 created a huge problem.
“If you are in the luckiest one percent of the humanity, then you owe it to the rest of the humanity to think about the other 99 percent “- Warren Buffett.
Many families saw the roof over their head being blown up in flames by the mobsters. Finding them a place to settle down for a while became very crucial. A temporary settlement was set up at Idgah for around 800-1000 victims. But as fate would have it, their troubles were far from over. The Idgah camp had to be vacated as everyone got concerned about the looming threat of Covid-19. Some families tried to relocate on their own, while for some we managed to get rented accommodations for few months. Beds, mattresses, kitchen utensils, reused clothes (washed and ironed) and other basic amenities were also provided to them. All the courtesy of volunteers of our organization. But the situation was far from over. We still had to think of ways to feed and financially secure these people who have lost their homes, their income. They had no one to turn to. Meanwhile, the global pandemic of COVID-19 reached India. The already affected individuals along with the other oppressed and marginalized communities were pushed further against the wall.
While distributing the ration, we realized that the standard kits of ration were not sufficient, as the size of the families varied and secondly, the requirements of every family were not exactly the same. This was a turbulent journey which we had lived with the survivors of the riot, families which looked up to us for help, and kids who smiled when they saw us. With our finite capacities and boundless spirit, we continued our work on the ground and kept analyzing the potential ways to find an efficient solution, concurrently. Prospective ideas were pitched in, discussed on, and then implemented finally in the form of ‘Smile Initiative’.
The Smile Kitchen
Our volunteers delivered cooked meal door to door at the identified riots places 2-3 times a day; along with milk and fruits for children, lactating and expecting mothers. Around 2000 people were covered under the smile kitchen making it a blessing for the people.
The Smile Card
Under this initiative, passes(cards) with a certain amount of monetary value were distributed which allowed the families to get their own customized groceries according to their family’s needs from the small businesses which we have helped to set up. With the functioning of Smile Card, a small market equilibrium was created which sustained the requirements of both the petty shop-owners and their consumers.
Brave Women of Shiv Vihar (PPE Kit)
With riot and pandemic having already exerted the toll over people’s lives, accompanied by the evisceration of livelihoods and output in economies, prognosticating the economic future as the pandemic rages on is an unviable task.
Pandemic is set to leave scars well into people ‘s livelihood, as labor markets take time to heal. We were able to get our hands on some sewing machines along with some initial capital ready for investment. Eager to earn some wage and make themselves useful, few of the victims came up with the idea of stitching masks and PPE kits; Thereby giving back to the society who had snatched everything from them just a few weeks back.
These women were provided with the sample of a PPE kits and within weeks they were able to stitch thousands of masks and hundreds of PPE kits. Initially they provided us with 50 PPE kits and thousand masks for our volunteers. Later on, miles2smiles bought off the whole lot of PPE kits and masks and few of them were donated to the frontline Covid Warriors in our neighboring hospital and police station. We were also able to donate thousand PPE kits and masks to the Baroda Muslim Doctor’s Association (BMDA) who were running free of cost Covid Care Centers.