CHENNAI: Everything has come to a screeching halt. A large part of the population hasn’t been outside the four walls of their homes in over a week. It is now, when the roads are bereft of bustling crowds and busy negligence, that the city’s uncomfortable reality stands out in stark relief. Our attention has finally turned to the thousands of homeless who continue to take shelter under bridges and at bus stops.
We eventually began to question their state — What would happen if one them is infected? How can I be safe from them? Do they still have no place to go to? What is the government going to do about them? What if the curve is flattened but spikes again because of them? Do they need sanitisers and masks? Wait, do they have any food to eat? .
Thankfully, not everyone stopped with just asking these questions. Several NGOs, welfare trusts and concerned citizens have stepped forth to provide for those in need — be they on the footpath off Anna Salai or in slums that do not get the benefit of a decently-stocked grocery store. Food, shelter, medicines, and any other need is being addressed, thanks to donations that continue to trickle in. If you are safely at home and wanting to do your part to ease another’s life, here are your options.
“We are collaborating with the GCC to provide sufficient shelter to the homeless during this lockdown,” says Asha Parikarnaidu, coordinator, Urban Shelters. Together they have set up 18 shelter homes in function halls around the city. They are also providing dry food supplies, hand washes and face masks to the homeless. For details, call: Murugan: 9841292373
Chennai Task Force
A citizen action group, Chennai Task Force is playing a crucial role in Chennai’s crisis management.
They, along with the Kindness Foundation, have collaborated with NGOs, suppliers, vendors and
volunteers to provide any necessary assistance to the underprivileged. They have also been working
in line with the GCC to provide required relief. “We are proactively identifying exactly what the needs of different groups and organisations are, and we think that’s a critical component of efficient resource
allocation. With the help of the NGOs we’re working with, we are able to tailor what we are giving to
the specific needs of who we are giving it to,” says Ishani Karthik, Chennai Task Force. For details, call: 7338812372
Penguin Sportsmen Welfare Trust
“Members of our trust have pooled in finances and have been reaching out to homeless families near Parry’s, Perumbur bridge and Broadway Street,” says N Raghu, treasurer, Penguin Sportsmen Welfare Trust. They have been able to provide dry rations sufficient for two days to around 120 destitute families in Chennai. For details, call: N Raghu - 9841454501
Call to contribute
The Greater Corporation of Chennai has issued a strict list of guidelines to streamline the collection
and distribution of rations during the crisis. These are few of the organisations that are approved to
function during the lockdown. Call to contribute in cash or kind.
The Kindness Foundation
The Kindness Foundation has been teaming up with NGOs to provide assistance to those who require it. “We are identifying groups that need our help and alerting our teams accordingly. We are catering to old age homes, families with disabled members, slum residents and homeless children, women and men,” says Mahima. They are working with Chennai Task Force for volunteers and on-ground activities. For details, call: 9344502996
Karunai Ullangal trust: “We are a team of approximately 50 people in different areas, distributing rations like rice, pulses, face masks and hand wash, to the homeless. We have three people stationed in each area. All of us are taking all the necessary precautions while working. We wear masks and gloves at all times,” says D Arulraj, co-founder of Karunai Ullangal trust. For details, contact: Arulraj - 9841776685
GOVT COLLECTION CENTRES
● Jaidev Stadium, Kilpauk
● Amma Arangam, Anna Nagar