BENGALURU: Chandramouli has become a family for people living in the slum in Nellurupuram near Whitefield. This 27-year-old Community Policing Head of Whitefield Division has been visiting them daily since the lockdown with some fresh food. The past two weeks though, since the Unlock Phase 1, the young man has introduced something new in the lives of the dwellers -- re-useable cloth face mask. Something, the government is trying to make ubiquitous by spreading awareness with a day dedicated to it. Masks are still a luxury for many, Chandramouli says.
During visits to families of daily wage earners, many of who lost their jobs due to the lockdown, feeding families was their main priority, and spending Rs 25 on a mask seemed a waste, he said. He is not alone in this effort to make masks accessible to the last person. Like-minded citizens have been part of the #MaskItBengaluru campaign since June 1, distributing masks to 2,495 persons across the city. This includes 1,000 masks given by citizen volunteer Chitra Spare to labourers stationed at Manpho Convention Centre awaiting for their travel passes.
The initiative is sustained by a network of volunteers, involved from production to distribution, connected on the page https://www.ichangemycity. com/mask. People register online and mention the number of masks they wish to donate. From there, responders who are a part of the Community Policing programme and spread across 108 police stations in Bengaluru, check the hygiene and pick up the consignment. To ensure transparency, donors are notified with pictures of the distribution and the area where the cloth masks are distributed.
“Citizens are encouraged to sew masks or give orders to local tailors, whose livelihood has been impacted during the lockdown” said Sapna Karim, Head of Civic Participation Programme of Janaagraha. This also comes as a relief to many tailors who suffered during the lockdown. “Getting new clothes stitched seems to be among the least of people’s priorities. However, now with the sudden demand for masks, the tailors are rebuilding their livelihoods,” said Poornima Sathyanarayanan, founder of FcomIndia, a Bengaluru-based tailoring firm.