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The world is reeling under a Global Pandemic and as much as Nations are ordering lockdowns, yet the fight of the human race against COVID-19 seems unending. India has 1965 confirmed cases as this article is being typed and is increasing by the day. In the midst of social distancing and self-quarantining, there is equally the need for the human population to unite – unite in the efforts of helping one another. While we are constantly on the prowl for information & daily statistics on the Coronavirus, I couldn’t help but come across these seven ordinary women making some extraordinary efforts.
Let’s begin with Captian Swati Raval. When the Coronavirus hit Italy real hard, flights to and from the country were banned completely. Amidst it 263 Indians were stranded. Air India arranged for a special flight with special precautions. Captain Swati Raval along with Captain Raja Chauhan manned the Boing 777 to rescue these Indians, especially students. She became the first civilian woman pilot to undertake a rescue mission. A mother to an infant, Swati describes it as the “riskiest flight” in her 15 years of commercial flying. It was a voluntary health risk and she was applauded by PM Modi including India’s Aviation Minister.
The country stood in awe of Minal Dakhave Bhosale not only because she delivered India’s first homegrown COVID-19 kit well in advance, but also because she went into labour the very next day. This Virologist, who is the R&D Chief of Mylab led a team despite being heavily pregnant to produce the testing kit in a record time of 6 weeks. The very next day she delivered a baby daughter.
“It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I have to serve my nation,” Minal told BBC, while applauding her team of 10 who worked very hard to create Patho Detect.
Another Indian woman who is helping people during the COVID-19 crisis is Mahita Nagaraj. She founded an online collective called the Caremongers that has been actively working to help the elderly and other vulnerable groups. Mahita, who is a Bangalore-based digital marketing professional and a single mother, received a call for help from her friend in the UK who requested her to get medicines for their elderly parents. Another friend from the US requested her to ensure that their parents had the daily needs sorted for the month. Realizing this could be a bigger issue, she posted a message on Facebook asking people to reach out if they needed help. She received an overwhelming response from all over the country. Interestingly, she says, most got in touch to assist her in helping the needy. This gave birth to the Facebook Group: Caremongers India on 17th March with a simple message – spreading love rather than fear, as their motto reads, “stop scaremongering and start caremongering”.
Another very honourable mention has to be the Kudumbashree, the 43 lakh strong self-help network of women in Kerala, creating Community Kitchens to feed the needy. When COVID-19 ensured a countrywide lockdown, the economy standstill hit people in the margins most. Many did not have the money to even scarp a decent meal. The Kerala government reached out to the Kudumbashree’s who have a very powerful network at the grassroots to help set-up community kitchens. These ladies united to create freshly cooked meals daily that get home-delivered via community workers. This initiative is not only respecting “stay at home” protocols but also these women take precautionary sanitization measures while they go about their tasks.
With the country going into a Lockdown, most government officials in non-health or police sector are relieved from daily tasks. So this IRS based in Mumbai, Sarika Jain, decided to use her time to rather do something that might help the community. With Maharashtra being the hardest-hit state, a lot of necessary medical and sanitary supplies were out of stock. Sarika, with some help from her family members, got her sewing machine set and started preparing easily-washable masks made of cloth. This Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax in Mumbai then distributed the masks to the vulnerable and needy in her neighbourhood in Bandra.
Another lady who deserves mention is Abanti Sankaranarayanan, the Chief Strategy & Corporate Affairs Officer of the Spirits Company Diageo. On Sunday, she took to her LinkedIn to describe a remarkable achievement by her team. She wrote, “Five days ago, we at Diageo India didn’t know anything about producing Hand Sanitizers. Between yesterday and today, thanks to the tireless efforts of about 50 people, we produced the first batch of hand Sanitizer packs.” Diageo’s manufacturing units in Goa, Assam, Hyderabad and Aurangabad took a pledge and produced over 300000 litres of bulk hand sanitizers for public healthcare workers on the frontline.
She says, “We feel privileged to support our country at this hour of crisis!”
Finally, Anita Dongre, one of India’s leading Fashion Designers quietly made a statement that was loud enough to be heard. She said, “A lot has changed in the last few days..Among the people who are likely to be most affected by these changes are the small vendors and self-employed artisans who contribute to the work you love and admire.” She donated a Medical Fund worth 15 Million for small vendors and self-employed artisans.
These women deserve noteworthy applause, not because they are doing extraordinary acts but rather their courage to extend a helping hand in a difficult time could be a life-saver for someone.
If you are lending your support to the community or know someone who is making an effort, write to us and we will tell their story.