Saturday, June 13, 2020

Manava Seva Samithi - 62 Days of Relentless Service During Lockdown

Whenever I would head out to buy groceries during the lockdown period, normally at noon, I would see long queues of people lined up for almost half a kilometre, hundreds of them. The beginning of the queue was at a booth at the entrance to Model Colony and the socially distanced, masked men and women queued up in a very disciplined manner, from an hour before the food distribution began. I was amazed at how organised the entire effort was - lines, masks, social distancing, timing, speed. Though the volunteers appeared familiar, I could not make out who they were thanks to the masks, until one day I saw one of my colony members, Maddipati Satyanarayana, a builder, among those serving the food. I meant to stop and ask but everyone seemed so busy that I didn't. I passed them many more times and the numbers seemed to increase. In the stressful times of the lockdown, it was such wonderful work to provide hot and nutritious food to so many. They did it with a lot of love, treated everyone equally and with respect and dignity. By a rough estimate, they served 40000 people in the two months period during the lockdown.

The booth for distribution
A few days ago I met M Satyanarayana in the colony, while chatting with my old friend Dr Satyanath aka Mani, and asked him how they went about it. He patiently told me about the activities of the Manava Seva Samithi and the members of the Trust that believes that serving people is serving god. He gave me the contact of Buchi Babu, a founder of the Trust, from whom I could get more information about the Trust.

Speedy distribution in the hot summer days - M Satyanarayana to the far right
Manava Seva Samithi was formed by a group of six like-minded people on 8th April, 2016, Ugadi day, with the aim of serving humanity irrespective of caste, creed, social status. D. Buchi Babu, K. Ravindra Babu, M Macharao, JST Sayi, Chava Srinivasa Rao and Shashikanth, from Model colony and Sundar Nagar colony (with the exception of C Srinivasa Rao who lives in Jubilee Hills), got together and began serving people. It was a motley group of two senior citizens, two entrepreneurs, a software employee and a Chartered Accountant.

For the poor and the migrant workers (though they served all)
They began by serving cool water to pedestrians and passersby from a Chalivendram (water distribution point) at the entrance of Model Colony. Noticing that the pedestrians also appeared hungry, they began distributing packets containing water, curd rice and a banana. About 250 people were served daily for the two hot and draining months of summer, and by the end of summer, about 15000 people had obtained some respite from the heat and struggle of daily life. Enthused and motivated by the wholesome response from those in need, the group expanded their activities beyond summer.

They began serving attendants of inpatients of the Government Hospital for Mental Health which is located right opposite our colony, about four or five times a month. They expanded further and served fruits and chikki to inpatients of hospitals, food to orphans in Anaadha Vidyarthi Gruha, school books, clothes and woollen blankets to poor students and the needy. 800 plates and glasses were distributed to the inpatients of the Government Hospital for Mental Health, eye camps conducted and spectacles provided free of cost. The more they served, the bigger they grew. Their donor list grew steadily to about a hundred plus - people who would donate to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary through a good cause. What started as a small, well-intentioned thought had grown to serve thousands.

The Tough Lockdown Days - 2020
This year, however, as the group was gearing up for their summer activities, the COVID pandemic struck, and the country was shut down. The strict lockdown and its attendant fears would have deterred most people but the Manava Seva Samithi members decided that this was an opportunity to serve even more number of people. People were out of jobs and were struggling to eat two square meals a day - migrant workers, bachelors, maids, petty service providers, auto/cab drivers, MCH workers, homeless - they were thrown to the winds. The Manava Seva Samithi expanded their scope and their hearts and started a drive to help those who were stuck in the lockdown without food and essentials. Not only was the scale of operation much larger than what the group had handled previously, but it also had the added risk of the highly infectious virus that was keeping everyone home. But once again, with a well-intentioned thought and a prayer on their lips, the members and their families, friends and volunteers, stood up for their cause.

Well demarcated social distancing 
For 62 days without a break, from April 6, 2020, to June 6, 2020, the Manava Seva Samithi's tireless volunteers, catered to an average of 500 people every day, an astounding 40000 meals. Food was prepared - hot and nutritious fried rice (400 gms), a banana, buttermilk, water packet - packed in aluminium foil and distributed from 12 pm. Separate lines for men and women, masks, social distancing were ensured and speedy distribution of the food packets done. A team of almost 15 volunteers stood there including children. Every day donors stepped in and provided financial support. Some days donors would pick up the entire bill of Rs. 12000 for a day. Miraculously funds showed up when they were running out and the work continued.

Endless queues
The food was so tasty and hot they say, that several people would come to them choosing their food over other more convenient sources. In addition to prepared food, the Samithi also collected and distributed essentials to the GHMC workers, the house help etc. The kit comprised of 15 kgs rice, 2 kgs dal, 1 kg oil, 1 kg sugar, 1 kg salt, chilly powder, 1 kg onions, totalling up to Rs. 1050 per kit. About 300 people received kits that would take care of their essential needs for a month.

Half a kilometre long

Youngsters stepping up beyond their years
It has been a wonderful job in times of extreme need by the members and volunteers of the Manava Seva Samithi who selflessly helped fellow humans at the cost of exposing themselves to the virus. Their work has been recognized by all those who passed by, people like me, people like high ranking government officials who stopped, complimented them, ate the hot food and promised and provided support. The press covered their service extensively.

For all those who helped and volunteered -  D. Buchi Babu, JST Sai, Nagamani, Maruthi Kishore, Shashikanth, Vijaya Kumar, Ravindra Babu, Phanindra, Sai Prashanth, Macharao, Srinivas and Maddipati Satyanarayana, the Patnaik family and others - a big round of applause. Here's wishing that your work grows and touches many more people and hoping that you inspire many more to serve fellow humans as you did.

The bank details of the Samithi are given below for those who wish to contribute. No amount is too less for them - even a hundred rupee donation is much appreciated.
The group - masked so can't make out - giving kits with essentials to the GHMC workers

Bank details
Manava Sevasamithi Charitable Trust
Bank of India, Sanjeeva Reddy Nagar (SR Nagar)
Account No 863710110009735
IFSC Code BKID0008637 


Sai Prasanth Nandagiri said...

Wow, well documented blog, nice to read it through, looks like every detail has been captured at the minute level. Helping hands are always holier than praying lips. Good Work is always God's Work, by our very dearest team, while our Soldiers are fighting at the borders with enemy, our "SoulDears" fought on the roads to help people get some food, who are not able to meet their both ends.

Unknown said...

Congratulations once again to the Manava Seva Samiti for doing such a wonderful job inspite of the serious Pandemic Carona Virus. We pray the Almighty to strengthen the hands of the members of the seva samiti to do more such activities when the people need it. Wishing all the members, Volunteers who have done the service with good health happiness peaceful and cheerful long Life.
J Vijaya Kumar & family

Anonymous said...

Nice to read the blog. I once again congratulate all the members of Manava Seva Samiti who have taken the initiative to serve the needy during the Pandemic. I pray the almighty to give strength and courage to all the members and the volunteers good health strength and courage to help the needy when the occasion araises.
J Vijaya Kumar & family

Athota said...

What ever is written in the blog is 100% fact and the team deserve a big Thank U !Thanks for their dedication ,Commitment and perseverance !