When the entire world was battling an unprecedented health crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, there were a number of unsung heroes who were fighting the battles from behind the curtains. They were the people who kept working in the spirit of humanity and continued setting new standards of brotherhood and togetherness for the society.
f this global pandemic and lockdown situation has put many in extreme mental, social, physical and financial stress, then it has also brought to light a number of good samaritans to reduce people’s sufferings.
From distributing food to feed the poor and hungry to educating children living in slums, these unsung heroes, without caring for their own health and safety, are fighting to bring lives back to normal.
These are our everyday warriors who are restoring humanity’s faith by coming up with novel ideas. Team Urban Update elaborates on the works of some of these unsung heroes.
Naseer Akhtar donates 330 quintals of wheat to Golden Temple
In what can be viewed as a symbol of brotherhood and communal harmony, Muslim families of Malerkotla, Punjab, have donated 330 quintals of wheat to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, to keep the Gurudwara’s community kitchen (langar) from stopping in the midst of the nationwide lockdown.
Naseer Akhtar, President, Sikh Muslim Sanjha Foundation, led the initiative of donating wheat to the Golden temple to support them in running the community kitchen, despite the shortage of ration. Akhtar, in conversation with Urban Update, said that there is only one lord who takes care of every human being in this world. He is called different names in different religions. All humans are the family of God and those people who work for humankind are among his favourites. He went on to say, “Under Islam, there is a teaching which states that feeding any human being of any religion is an act of humanity. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, their foundation started distributing rations among the needy and poor. The female members of the organizations used to reach out to the needy women, talk to them and understand their problems and distribute ration among them.” Talking about how they thought of helping the Golden Temple authorities, he said that they received an appeal from them which said that they are facing a shortage of ration and if it continues, they might have to discontinue the langar. “Members of the foundation then started collecting wheat and got an overwhelming response. Every house they visited donated wheat and, with god’s grace, they were able to collect 330 quintals of wheat for donating it to the Golden Temple,” added Akhtar.
Naseer Akhtar said that 34 COVID-19 positive patients were admitted to the Civil Hospital in Malerkotla and the foundation took the initiative of providing them fruit kits. Initially, there were 7 members in the foundation. However, their number started increasing gradually after the initiative taken to continue the community service in Golden Temple was received positively by all. The foundation is even working on starting a langar service for the daily wagers who, at times, don’t get work the entire day and have to return home empty-handed.
Bengaluru Cop becomes a teacher for the children of migrants in slum
Amid the COVID pandemic, students, particularly those from financially weaker families, have been struggling to continue their studies as schools continue to remain shut since March this year. Every morning since August 20, Shantappa Jadammanavar, sub-inspector in the Bengaluru City Police, has been taking classes for children in a neighbourhood slum in Vinayak Nagar, Nagarbhavi in Western Bengaluru.
Shantappa, in conversation with Urban Update, said that during the nationwide lockdown, he noticed that the migrant workers who had come to Bengaluru to earn more were facing an unprecedented financial crisis. In order to help them, he started arranging groceries for the migrants. With the help of sponsors, he was able to distribute 10 lakh groceries kits among them. In addition to this, women from these families were unable to avail regular health checkups. With the help of doctors, Shantappa made sure that their health was not ignored. Due to the lockdown, children were also unable to eat healthy food. For this too, Shantappa worked with sponsors, doctors, and provided healthy, nutritious food to the children.
Now that the lockdown is lifted in almost all cities across India, poor children are still unable to access education due to lack of access to technology. In order to help the children, Shantappa decided to teach them daily between 07:00 AM and 08:00 AM. “I myself was a migrant worker when I had come to Bengaluru many years ago. Thus, I know the ground reality and what problems they might be facing at a time like this. This is why I decided to help them in every way possible,” Shantappa said. He said that initially, only 10 students were attending the classes but over time, when he started providing them with books and other stationery items, other children also started joining, taking their number to 40. Shantappa also ensured that during the classes, the children followed COVID preventive measures like social distancing and wearing masks. If any student did not have a mask, he provided them with one free of cost.
Using just a board and a marker, he teaches children in an open space near the slum area. Apart from teaching them the prescribed syllabus, he makes sure that regular revision of what they have been taught earlier is also carried out. Students from class 4 to 10 join his class. However, because in most families, both parents are working, the children have to bring their younger siblings with them and this causes disturbance in the teaching process. Thus, Shantappa tried to convince the children to not bring their younger siblings along. Nonetheless, these classes are supported by the parents Shantappa continues to try and convince other parents by making them realise that without education, their children might not be able to live a better life in the future.
After witnessing the wholehearted support from the children and their parents, Shantappa wishes to continue teaching them even after the pandemic is over. “After the one hour class, the smile that I see on their faces is priceless. I see how confident they have become, knowing that someone is there to take care of their basic human right to education,” he said. Apart from academics, he also tries to inculcate good social etiquettes in the children and tried to give them sound moral education too. He wishes that one day, one of his students received a Bharat Ratna. He has also renamed the students in his class after the names of freedom fighters like Sarojini Naidu, Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Gopal Krishnan Gokhale, Khudiram Bose, and local freedom fighters like Sangolli Rayanna. He does so because firstly, he wants such heroes, who were lost in time, to come to the forefront of the society and secondly, he wants to inculcate the personalities and value system followed by those fighters into the personality and subconscious mind of the children attending his classes.