Coronavirus-news April 1, 2020
This lockdown period, Bengaluru based NGO Smileys reaches out to disabled people in different ways
Bengaluru based NGO Smileys is ensuring to provide food, water and other essential commodities to disabled people in the city during the lockdown period. The services are sent through authorized delivery partners like Dunzo, Swiggy etc. In a week, they have already reached out to 2200 people in the city.
The 21 day lockdown period was much needed in India where Coronavirus cases are rising at a rapid rate. But there are thousands of people in different cities who are struggling to make ends meet. People with disabilities from economically backward families are the worst affected with no food or shelter during these tough times. Bengaluru based NGO Smileys, that works towards empowering disabled people, have stepped up to do their bit for the disabled community in the city. Their virtual network ensures that disabled people with needs are provided with food, water and other essential commodities during these tough times. In a week, Smileys has reached out to over 2200 people already.
A novel initiative
The initiative started with 15 volunteers when the lockdown period was announced. Now, they have over 65 volunteers spread across Bengaluru. All of them are connected through social media and WhatsApp. They have two contact numbers to which people in need can call anytime.
We are trying to leverage our work through existing platforms. So when a request comes to our number, we verify it first. Then, we assign this through delivery partners like Dunzo and Swiggy. They are authorized people who are allowed to deliver outside during this lockdown period. NGO’s like Geetha Foundation are also helping in our work- Vishnu Soman, Founder, Smileys.
Not just food, but medicine, utensils and food are sent over to disabled people who are in need.
According to Vishnu, the most number of requests come from visually impaired people. Many daily wages workers with disabilities are the most affected because they are left with no money or a shelter.
Though the services of Smileys are free, people who can afford pays for it.
“A boy with autism was stuck with his relatives in one part of the city when the lockdown was announced. He couldn’t return back to his home which was quite far from his relative’s home. So his mother approached us to send him medicines. It was done successfully. They paid us too”, says Vishnu.
In another incident, a visually impaired girl from an economically backward family wanted a pressure cooker to cook her daily food. One of the volunteers stepped up and sent her his own one which she could use till the lockdown period got over.
An elderly man who is in isolation at his home is currently staying alone because all his family members were tested positive for COVID-19 and are at the hospital. He has no means to cook food. So every day, team Smileys orders food through Swiggy to the elderly man’s house which is delivered three times a day. He pays for it as well.
The team is also delivering food to members of a government run disabled home in the city.
There are a few visually impaired people who work for MNC’s in the city, but are stuck indoors without any water. Volunteers make sure that they get water without hassles on a regular basis.
Another visually impaired youngster was stuck in his hostel with no food soon after the lockdown. He contacted Smileys and they immediately sent food over to him.
These are the much needed happy stories which shows humanity is still alive.
A much needed initiative
Team Smileys hopes to reach out to maximum number of people with disabilities in the next two weeks. Their volunteers adhere to all the safety measures and do not step out.
“The best part during these tough times are the humanity that we see amongst people. Delivery boys go overboard to help us. So even if there is no Dunzo or Swiggy at some locations, they are still ready to travel a little further to get the products delivered”, says Vishnu. The work is being done with the support of Enable India as well.
After reaching out to over 2200 people across Bengaluru, Smileys hopes to cover more area and reach out to more number of people.
Gaurav Ramesh, who is an engineering student from Dayanand Sagar College is a delivery volunteer coordinator.
“I have been part of Smileys since past two years. It is not easy to do our current work with so many restrictions. But we are still determined to work. These times, we can also see humanity of the delivery boys too”.
If you come across a person in need for any of their services, contact +91 93534-61312 or +91 90351-76103.
You can support them with donations by contacting +91 88616-30450.
Watch in Sign Language
Support us to make NewzHook Sustainable – Make a Contribution Today
We need your continued support to enable us work towards Changing Attitudes towards Disability. Help us in our attempt to share the voices of people with disabilities that enable them to participate in the society on an equal footing!