It is late in the night but Sai Teja's house in Hyderabad, is buzzing with activity. The 29-year-old techie and his friends, all in their 30s, his mother, grandmother, young niece, are all busy unpacking large boxes of medicines and other supplies, to reorganise and repack into smaller kits to be distributed in remote tribal areas of Telangana.
These are Covid medicines, sanitary masks, PPE kits, sanitisers and other such items, paid for by donors, that would be distributed in areas where such resources are either inaccessible or beyond the means of the people.
With 500 such medical isolation kits ready, Sai Teja and his friend Rakesh load them on to a vehicle the next morning and travel along with the consignment, to the tribal belt of Eturunagaram, a five-hour drive from Hyderabad. They are working professionals, so the techie-do gooders catch up on work during the car journey, in the era of Work From Anywhere.
It has been an eventful and meaningful 15 months for the 10 techies from Hyderabad who got together after the lockdown in March last year, initially to feed the hungry migrants and other needy. Those were unprecedented times when there was a lockdown for the first time, and the group realised that though life changed significantly for them, in terms of work from home and no going out, for a much larger population outside, it brought unprecedented distress and pain.
So they organised themselves and started physically helping the less fortunate. When their own resources did not suffice, they connected online, to tap into the generosity of others who wanted to help but did not know how best to do it.
“We were able to identify distress, and unmet demand, raise resources and act as trustees to ensure the contributions of donors reach who they are meant for. We played the role of facilitators who made it happen,'' explains Sai Teja.
Every activity undertaken is video recorded as evidence, proof and audit of what has been done with a donor's contribution, to ensure there is transparency and credibility.
When the deaths started rising, they started a Free Last Ride service, for transporting dead bodies. They sponsored those who were unable to afford the exorbitant cost of paying for ambulances or performing last rites.
“We started Last Ride Service to take care of the cremation of any victim if no near or dear ones are available or cannot afford to pay. We have hired a vehicle, body carriers, driver and so on. We mobilise funds to pay for all that or volunteer ourselves," says Prashant, another volunteer for the Feed The Needy.
So far they have helped cremate 220 bodies, including 150 Covid patients in the first wave. Another 169 bodies were cremated by them in the second wave, which included 120 Covid cases. For another 101 dead bodies, they paid for the funerals.
The second wave has seen a sharp rise in cases in the rural and tribal belts. So this year they started reaching out to places outside Hyderabad. They take turns to travel along with the consignment to different rural destinations, where the medical kits are handed over to primary users, or to healthcare agencies working in the area, who in turn distribute it among those who need them.
Prashant says it was empowering to be able to help at a time of such overwhelming distress.
“The government alone can't do everything. If we all contribute and help each other, the effort gets multiplied," he explains.
Any citizen can avail the services of Feed The Needy by calling on +91-7995404040 or +91-9490617440