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Marginalised Narikuravar community gets help from COVIDuthalia, a voluntary group

COVIDuthalia, a voluntary group has appealed to people to donate for helping the Narikuravar community, a marginalised section struggling in Covid-19 pandemic

Even in normal times, the going is tough for the Narikuravar community – a marginalised one — based in Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai as they struggle to meet both ends by selling their wares in busy areas. Both the earlier and the ongoing Covid-19 waves have virtually broken their back in terms of sustaining their lives.

Attempting to bridge this vital and critical gap for the Narikuravar community, a volunteer group COVIDuthalia has come forward. They have started an initiative to raise funds in order to buy and supply rations for this group. They plan to give at least one month's ration to each family.

The Narikuravar community of Chennai earns its livelihood by selling beads, chains, bangles, and toys. They are usually seen selling these trinkets and small items at places typically crowded by people. These include bus stands, railway stations, temples, and other public places.

As the lockdowns severely hampered movement and congregation of people at public places, Narikuravar, who are completely dependent on foot traffic to these locations, faced a significant impact on their earnings.

Sai Sudha Chandrasekaran, one of the founders of COVIDuthalia, who spoke to the New Indian Express stated: “Due to the pandemic, the lives of daily earners has come to a standstill. They have no source of income and their savings have run out. The Narikuravar community is not well represented either; some people don’t even know about them. People have told us how they were completely unaware of the community’s situation or how to reach them and thanked us for being the connecting dot. We were able to amplify their needs.

In fact a recent article about the community sparked the need for a fundraiser.

Chandrasekaran added: “We also didn’t know about the situation and concluded that we had to help. We work closely with the Corporation and in a conversation, we confirmed that they would also like to look at and help this community. They led us to the community leaders and we could liaise with them for the drive.”

This voluntary group intends to donate 2,000 kilograms of rice in 10 kg packets to at least 200 families in Pallavaram, Poonamallee and Madambakkam. Leading several drives and projects, COVIDuthalai in a span of six weeks, managed to facilitate Rs 70-Rs 75 lakh worth of supplies. From a mere group of a few friends and their relatives, the volunteer force has grown to an army of 100 volunteers.

Nearly 40 volunteers of COVIDuthalia recently helped the Coimbatore Covid war room by monitoring 4,500 home isolation patients in the last 15 days. Other endeavours of this group include raising funds for schizophrenic patients and auto drivers who have been helping Covid patients; obtaining and distributing dry rations to North Chennai based families; adopting a slum in Saidapet; and providing oximeters to Chennai Corporation.

Rendering vital information regarding help and healthcare services offered by other establishments for Coronavirus patients, COVIDuthalia has been maintaining a roster of contacts for hospital beds, oxygen concentrators, ambulances, blood donors, oxygen suppliers, and testing services for people in need.

Going beyond Chennai, the volunteer group has now come up with another project, in which they plan to lend a hand to Kerala by procuring medical equipment for Thiruvananthapuram. “COVID doesn’t see boundaries, so why should COVIDuthalai,” Chandrasekaran remarked.

For those who wish to contribute to fundraising for the Narikuravar community may check out COVIDuthalai’s Ketto campaign at https:// www.ketto.org/fundraiser/ help-chennai-breathe; to sign up as a volunteer, contact @ coviduthalai on Instagram or Twitter.