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Navdeep Singh distributing food to underprivileged kids in Pune.
Navdeep Singh distributing food to underprivileged kids in Pune.

Millennials find creative ways to serve during covid-19

From sharing hardware and donating food, they’re offering whatever they can to help the needy

A few weeks ago, Delhi’s Harshit Singh, locked down at home like most others across the country, wondered what he could do to help out during the covid-19 pandemic. The 23-year-old got online to find out about research and treatments, and realised he could contribute.

He signed up for Folding@home, a computing project by a consortium of 11 laboratories to study the molecular structure of diseases. Its current focus is covid-19. By signing up, Singh allows the platform to use his laptop when he’s not working on it.

“There are only a few supercomputers in the world and not all researchers have access. With Folding@home, they get access to a large number of machines, which will help them visualize different protein structures and how they react with different agents," said Singh, who works with production company The Gaia People.“It gives me hope that I am putting my laptop to good use."

Singh is among a growing number of individuals doing their bit to help combat the impact of covid-19. From giving time and energy to purchasing hardware and donating food, they’re offering whatever they can in the fight against the virus.

Three days before the first phase of the nationwide lockdown, Sangitha Krishnamurthi and her husband Shankar Venkatagiri launched an online donation campaign to buy two ventilators and 1,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) sets for the medical staff at St John’s National Academy of Health Sciences in Bengaluru.

“I couldn’t have imagined the funds would rack up so fast," said Krishnamurthi, co-founder of The Teachers Collective, a Bengaluru-based education platform. Their fundraising goal was 5 lakh. In just over three weeks, they raised 20.5 lakh.

Even offline, individuals are finding ways to help the needy. Nehal Sial and her husband, Simran, both 35, run a guest house and a cloud kitchen in Delhi. They’ve been getting meals cooked and delivered to low-income clusters in Harkesh Nagar (Okhla), Lal Gumband (near Panchsheel Park) and Jagadamba Camp (near Chirag Delhi).

Initially, they planned to distribute 50 meal boxes in a slum near one of their cloud kitchens. “The kitchen was underutilized and the staff was living in the guest house," said Sial, who has named the initiative, Dilli Seva Covid-19. But when word spread among family and friends, 35 people stepped up to chip in financially.The couple collected 4.2 lakh in the first phase of the lockdown, and distributed 12,011 meals in 16 days. Now, they have received fresh donations for 2,000 more meals.

In Pune, Navdeep Singh, 30, an artificial intelligence architect, has taken leave without pay to mobilize meals for the underprivileged. Singh, whose initiative is called 2 Meals Extra, collects meals from housing complexes in Pimple Saudagar, Wakad and Thergaon, where each household cooks food for two additional people, as well as a gurdwara and a restaurant. He and five other volunteers distribute the meals in labour camps. Singh is hopeful that the donations the initiative has raised will see them through May.

Krishamurthi, meanwhile, is happy to report that the money has been used to buy PPE sets and ventilators. “If we can do this elsewhere, imagine the impact it will have," she said.

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