On the near empty roads of Salem, a curious bunch of women wearing violet coloured T.Shirts and covering their faces with masks, criss-cross busily on vehicles any time of the day. Tracking their movement we find them reaching out to those going without food and other life sustenance during the ongoing lockdown.
We also hear that these women who brave outdoors when staying home strictly is the only life safety mode to guard against the dreaded corona virus infection, are themselves people of dire need. Members of the, Acham Thavir women group organised by Bodhimaram an NGO, the women are destitute and marginalised. The 15 members of the group volunteer for social awareness campaigns and also get their hands and clothes dirty directly involving in sensitive social work activities like rescue and rehabilitation of homeless mentally retarded persons. In total Acham Thavir has 19 members including Bodhimaram trustees, Managing Trustee, R.Rajeswari and Secretary Prema.
Supported by Salem Corporation, Acham Thavir group has now taken up the operation of a community kitchen and also distribution of food made to the people hit by the lockdown. Operating inside the Corporation Primary School in Ayanthirumaligai, it is 14 hours a day grind for the community kitchen from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm.
“The women prepare breakfast, snacks and tea for forenoon, lunch, snacks and tea for the evening and food for the night. They take the prepared food in vehicles to the four zones in the Corporation and distribute it to people in need in those areas. Homeless persons living on the road side, people who lost lively hood due to closure of shops and establishments and also elderly people are being served. Food is being distributed to those on the roads and also those in need in the houses. Acham Thavir volunteers also provide snacks and tea in the forenoon and in the evening to workers of the Salem Corporation who are performing various duties during the lockdown and also to the police men who are serving round the clock,” says R. R.Rajeswari, Managing Trustee, Bodhimaram.
Rajeswari informs that the Corporation was supporting the community kitchen initiative. Nearly 1350 people are served every day, she adds. The daily menu is written on the notice board of the school and also the groceries required are listed. Public are solicited to contribute to the cause. “The Public are responding on whatsapp and also directly with offers to help,” says Rajeswari. While Acham Thavir group’s humanitarian gesture is appreciated by the public, concern is also being expressed about the safety of the volunteers.
However the members say they are confident that as all necessary precautions such as social distancing, personal protection devices like masks and gloves are being observed by them.
(Centre for Community Media)