By Pramod Thomas
A RESIDENT of Bangalore in south India is helping Indians abroad get in touch with their family as the UK and India are among countries that have imposed a lockdown to control the spread of the infectious Covid-19 virus.
Mahita Nagaraj, 38, launched a Facebook page Caremongers India in March to assist elderly and vulnerable patients at a time when only essential services are open in India. Last week, Caremongers.com was also launched.
In just 13 days, the service attracted 18,650 member volunteers. Its helpline, managed by Nagaraj herself, gets around 1,000 calls and more than 1,500 messages on a single day.
“Recently, we received a request from a Birmingham resident whose father was a dialysis patient in Bangalore. Initially, one of our volunteers took him to the hospital for dialysis. Later, we helped him get a personal pass as he had to undergo dialysis on alternative days,” Nagaraj told Eastern Eye.
With a stated mission, “Raise your hands to help your community”, Caremongers provides support to those who are unable to care for themselves in this difficult time. So far, they have fulfilled the requests of more than 10 UK residents whose parents or grandparents are in India, Nagaraj, a digital marketing professional, told Eastern Eye.
The Facebook group attracted 2,000 members in just 48 hours and within 24 hours of setting up the phone helpline, she received 400 calls.
“I started the group after a friend who lives overseas requested me to deliver some medicines to her parents in Bangalore. Initially, the idea was to help my friends abroad whose parents/grandparents are in Bangalore.
“I posted a message on Facebook saying that if anyone wants any help please be in touch. It was intended for my friends and family. But messages and requests have started to pour in. So, I started a FB page on March 17,” Nagaraj, who lives with her mother and son said.
Caremongers caters to four groups of people – senior citizens, those who are physically challenged, anyone with an infant under the age of twelve months and people with pre-existing medical conditions.
“We are getting calls from everywhere Indians are working and their parents are alone back home. I have taken calls from the UK, US, Europe, Japan, the Middle East and almost everywhere,” she said.
It is not the first time she has taken up an altruistic project like this.
A few years ago, Nagaraj ran a food programme called Feed Your Neighbour. It encouraged people to donate food from their home to feed others who were in need.
She explained how her initiative makes a huge difference in society. “During a crisis like this, it is very important to stay at home as suggested by the government. This is the only way to fight this pandemic. Our volunteers are helping people to stay at home as we make sure essentials are reached to them. So, they do not want to go out every other day. Instead, they can ask for supplies once in a week,” she said.
One grateful resident of Kolkata said on Facebook: “I haven’t seen God and don’t know how he looks like. But I have seen him in the form of Caremongers India.”
Nagaraj reiterated that to contain the spread of the virus people have to stay at home. “Staying home is saving lives,” she said.