A few weeks into the lockdown, 39-year-old Bengaluru resident Mahita Nagaraj came across a request by a UK-based former classmate to check on her elderly parents in Bengaluru. Mahita arranged supplies for them and decided to take it forward by making a Facebook group where people could ask for help and sign up to help out. Thus Caremongers India, which now has 55,000-plus volunteers, was born.
WhatsApp vs FB
With 800 to 1,500 calls and 2,500 messages via SMS and WhatsApp coming in for help per day, the turnover had to be quick. So, some volunteers only posted messages from WhatsApp to the group and although FB had the largest number of volunteers, WhatsApp had city and task-based groups.
When an infant in Kerala needed an anti-epileptic injection that had to be administered within 72 hours but wasn’t available in the state, the Caremongers group traced the injection to Pune and got it to the baby within 48 hours. And when a man who had returned to the home he had been living in for 35 years after spending months abroad with his daughter had his door forcibly sealed by his neighbours, Caremongers sorted out the problem. “We are all still in touch. None of us had ever met each other and we became like a family over the lockdown,” Mahita smiles.
Come together as a community
To focus on her task, the single mother sent her 12-year-old son to his friend’s place and her mother to her grandmother’s home. “My son, mum and I are best friends, so it was a nightmare, but it was needed,” she says.
What has the lockdown taught us?
“The more you participate to help a community, the more the community helps you,” she says. “Everyone can help and social media is enabling that.”
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From HT Brunch, January 3, 2021
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