Through times both good and bad, it is the warm and caring nature of the denizens in Vizag that always shines through. So while in 2014, it was the Cyclone Hudhud that had brought people together, the latest lockdown due to the prevailing corona crisis too has spurred action from many corners in Vizag. While businesses feel the pressure of the lockdown, business leaders and kind-hearted citizens are putting work priorities aside and focussing on the community instead. Here’s how a few individuals have stepped up to support the community in Vizag in the current corona situation.
1. Mallika Grandhi, Vaibhav Jewellers
“I was very inspired by Shri Narendra Modiji’s speech. Drawing a simple lakshamana rekha outside our homes was his call for action. It reminds us of how crossing that simple line led to lanka-dahanam, and how in today’s times, crossing our threshold can affect the world. While as a business house, we will follow the instructions of the government, right now we, along with our Walker’s association, are providing food for the Police Department through Akshaya Patra. We have also offered support for ventilators, if the need arises. Staff is family, and employees in each area have formed teams through WhatsApp, and we are coordinating through motivational videos, guidelines, messages and however else we can. In fact, 15 of our employees are from Allipuram, with one girl living right next door to the place where Vizag’s first case came from. Team members reached out to her, and have been offering moral support, as fear often sets in during such times.”
2. Supraja Borthwick
“From Day One of the lockdown, my friend Kala, Srinivas garu- who runs a vanaprastha ashram and I have been distributing food during the night. We started by giving food initially to 200 people near the railway station. Given the higher numbers in different parts of the city, we then decided to split up so we can cover more areas. Now we are able to feed more than 500 people every day. The food is hygienically cooked in each of our homes. We have been given vehicle passes, and we are distributing food with the support of police and administration. The menu includes rice, sambhar, curry, and buttermilk, which has been specified by the government. Sweets are also being sponsored. We are reaching out to people in night shelters, stranded passengers at the station, daily-wage earners and others. Some of their stories are heartbreaking. Turned away by their landlords, after the lockdown announcement, they could not go to their villages, because of the lack of transport. Some of these people are students or are here for work.
Amid the current corona crisis, I feel that it is our social responsibility to look after people in Vizag and to adhere to the government’s orders. While the effects of the lockdown were seen for the first few days and people were afraid to come out, now people are not so cautious. However, I do commend the efforts of the government, and every night shelter has police, to maintain social distancing and order. Beds are arranged with gaps, and space is being maintained between people even when they sit down to eat. For a country with a large population and a ‘chalega’ attitude, doing so much is really commendable.”
3. Mr. Mallik, Kankatala
“We are doing 3 things to show our support to Vizag during these difficult times caused by corona. One, we are providing lunch to approximately 500 police personnel. We are doing this with the support of Akshayapatra through personal contributions and funds raised by the Rotary Club of Vizag couples. To ensure that the food is delicious and appealing, we are packing it in disposable boxes, and are serving varieties such as flavoured rice, curd rice, and fruits. The food distribution takes place through three of our vehicles, which go and distribute from 10:30 AM – 2 PM with the help of a police escort. Secondly, we are providing sanitizers and masks to municipal corporation employees through a Trust. Thirdly, we have a nursing home, which is helping our employees with all basic medicines and care. We have paid salaries to all our 780 employees, and have told them to be careful and stay safe for the days to come. I’m also in regular conference calls with my 14 managers, who in turn are staying in touch with the team members. Since birth, for me, this is the first time that I remember staying at home for so long and am using it to exercise, sleep and spend quality time with family. I feel it will take us six months to come out of this, and a similar amount of time till we can settle down to normal routines.”
4. Ramesh Reddy, Swathi Promoters
“The police are guarding us 24/7 often not caring for themselves, but for the society and our lives. Sometimes they do not have access to food or aren’t allowed to go home too. Trying to serve them, we are providing 300-400 packs of food every evening for the police personnel in the city. For this, we have arranged five teams of 4-5 members each. These teams start at 5:30 PM and distribute a hot meal, water bottle, napkins and some snacks in different parts of the city. To ensure good food, we are cooking it at our premises and ensuring hygienic practices while cooking, packing and distributing. ‘Social service is part of our business’, and whenever the city has faced an emergency, we have done our bit. We are always ready to support through scholarships, devotional and other activities. I’m in touch with my employees through phone and video conferencing regularly. We have given masks and hand sanitizers to the people who are distributing food, and have been successfully rendering services under the leadership of our Chairman Swathi Krishna Reddy.”