Mahantesh GK & team have reached out to over 2 lakh disabled people during lockdown
Mahantesh GK, who is visually impaired, is the founder of NGO Samarthanam. He is also a pioneer in introducing blind cricket to India and making it popular. During lockdown, Mahantesh and his team from Samarthanam helped lakhs of disabled people and others in need. Free ration, PPE, other safety kits and even cooked meals were provided to many.
Mahantesh GK, who has spearheaded blind cricket in India needs no introduction. Visually impaired, he is the founder of Bengaluru-based NGO Samarthanam that empowers people with disabilities. Contributions of Mahantesh towards India’s disabled community are many. He is the President of the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) and an integral part of the world blind cricket too.
During the lockdown, thousands of people with disabilities from across India were affected. Being located in Karnataka, Mahantesh did his best to those not just in his state but in other parts of India too.
Lending a helping hand to those affected
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nation-wide lockdown on 24 March as a measure to control spread of Coronavirus. This was unexpected and led to loss of jobs for millions of people across the country. People with disabilities, mostly daily wage workers, were the most affected. They were searching in the dark for answers. Most of them had to stave for days along with their family members. During this time, many kind-hearted souls and NGO’s reached out to help. Amongst them was Samarthanam, led by Mahantesh.
As soon as the lockdown started, I started getting calls from blind people and others from the disabled community. Most of them were struggling to get food and medicines. They did not clearly know what was happening. So I consulted my Samarthanam team and we decided to reach out to people with disabilities in need- Mahantesh GK, Founder, Samarthanam.
Though the team was skeptical to venture outdoors amidst the pandemic, Mahantesh is the one who gave them confidence. “My team was scared whether they would get infected by the virus. But then we realized that we can take safety precautions and also get treated if infected”, says Mahantesh.
Much needed help
There were three projects that Samarthanam took up. The first one was to provide dry ration which benefitted more than 20,000 people. The second one was to hand over cooked food to over 2.5 lakh people in need. In the third one, PPE kits and other safety equipment was handed over to health and Asha workers. People from not just Karnataka, but across India were benefitted from these projects.
Samarthanam also provided cash grants for people with disabilities. Mahantesh remembers two incidents which touched his heart. A blind couple were starving for days and was happy to have received food packets from him. A child with cerebral palsy and his parents who were were daily wage workers, were struggling to make ends meet. Mahantesh’s help reached them and they were glad!
“Personally, I’am happy that I could light up their faces. All this happened because of my team and our kind-hearted sponsors who helped us during the time of need”, says Mahantesh.
Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu was amongst those who congratulated Mahantesh and his team for their efforts. He encouraged them and has assured all possible help from the health department in their upcoming ventures.
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