Late night or early mornings, Manjulatha Kalanidhi is busy connecting digitally. She uses the online platform called "Rice Bucket Challenge" to garner help from those who can give, to those who need it the most.
Ms Kalanidhi is grateful to technology that despite Covid restrictions, she has been able to raise resources and partner with Donatekart, a crowdfunding platform. The contributions in kind are distributed with the help of on-ground NGOs.
“Rice Bucket Challenge does not have a big network. My family and I work with on-ground NGOs like Robinhood Army, get lot of requests but they can't collect money. Like now, we are sending 400 kg of rice, 80 kg of dal and 80 litres of oil to a group of music artistes who are typically busy during the music season but are now rendered jobless due to the pandemic. Even if a wedding is happening, nobody is hiring them. So this lot is going to them," she told NDTV.
"Rice Bucket Challenge" has been able to help the once extremely popular folk artistes' group Surabhi, whose earnings have taken a big hit in the past year.
According to Ms Kalanidhi, there have been a lot of requests this year.
“In the last one month, we have got a lot of requests from people who I wouldn't think would require it. Reason being they have lost their jobs. I guess they would have had some small savings that may have lasted a month or two. These are people who normally don't ask. I felt we should support them. We are giving lot of grocery to that kind of groups. We reach out to many demographics, teachers, furniture-makers and weavers," she said.
Prashant, a techie who volunteers with NGOs like Rice Bucket Challenge, says they are seeing a number of middle-class families now struggling to even eat.
“In terms of hunger, most of the well-settled families cannot come out openly and ask openly. We help them out with grocery at doorstep. Drop grocery at their doorstep and move on, call them and tell them to take it," he said.
What's heartening is that Ms Kalanidhi says that she has never had to say ‘no' to anybody because there were no donors.
“Never did I have a time when I didn't have funds. Whatever the need be, people have given. Like to a tea vendor, I will give 5 kg of tea. Informal crowdsourcing has also happened. I still encourage people to give physically. What I do is for example, if PVNR Expressway wants to give, I connect them to an orphanage nearby because logistically, it does not work to transport long distances. That amount can be better spent on another 10 grocery kits," she said.
She said the goodwill works on how transparent a person is.
“There are people who say they will give us (money) on Google Pay.... But we say, ''thanks, but do on our online network.' Because we have the records, documentation and the receipt is given. It is more transparent. This is people's money, so I have to be extremely responsible with how I handle it," she said.
Now, even families with so-called stable jobs are facing huge financial crisis because of expenses like medical bills. In such times, civil society's help is proving to be a huge boon.