Helping people is a matter of attitude - GulfToday

Helping people is a matter of attitude


Illustrative image.

Without meaning to be unreasonably preachy, one would like to state, and in definite terms, that when there is a serious crisis all of us should jump in to deal with the impending problem.

The person willing to help need not be a man worth millions because help is always a matter of feelings and not means. Some millionaires have been known for shutting their doors to beggars. Some ordinary humans have set their fraternity talking by sharing their modest possessions.  

One such person is Abdul Rahim, a resident of West Bengal, India. When Rahim got his truck driver’s licence, he never imagined himself behind the wheel of a truck that has been turned into a mobile medical outfit serving low-income residents of his town. The truck is not an easy drive: there is no stylish steering and it chugs along. But Rahim said every time a patient climbs the vehicle to buy tablets they could not afford in the shops, he is reminded of why he would not want to drive anything else.

“We’re here for them, when people are stuck without medicines and it gets tough ... it makes me happy to see them happy,” said Rahim, 36, standing next to the gleaming red truck in the town’s unstylish area.

The truck was born at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, when a social activist appealed on social media for good-hearted entrepreneurs to brainstorm ideas to help the needy and poor community. Last year’s strict lockdown, which began in March, had a devastating impact on millions of human beings. By April 2020, three million ordinary people had lost their jobs and one in five were going hungry, found a survey by universities. In the fourth quarter of last year, government statistics showed record unemployment of 32.5%, meaning 7.2 million people were out of work.

“I knew I wanted to look at sustainable solutions around medicines,” said a man, from his offices in Ramnagar, a former laundry factory in an inner city belt that now houses big studios, community vegetable gardens and a clinic.

The truck’s seats were removed to make way for cupboards and shelves to stack the fresh medicines and other important stuff. Months after Rahim had bought the old truck, it was reborn as a mobile drug outlet. Four days a week, the truck parks in different city neighbourhoods where the team tell customers what the project aims to achieve, encouraging shoppers to bring their own containers to reduce plastic waste. Another man, like Rahim, sold his car to buy oxygen for COVID-19 patients.

This discussion shall remain incomplete without talking about the pantry in Philippines.

Called “community” or “village pantry,” it operates on a principle, espoused by a businesswoman Ana Patricia Non. The principle: “Give whatever you can, take only what you need.”

Non, 26, firmed up the concept by buying a bamboo cart and initially filled it with some grocery items and parked it in front of her shop in a “barangay” (village) in Quezon City, Manila. It turned out to be a fantastic social service concept.

The praiseworthy gesture, displayed by the Indian and the Filipina, goes on to prove that during any major crisis it is everybody’s responsibility to respond, and in a concrete way, and not wait endlessly for the authorities to intervene.

Granted, the ultimate answer to a problem as enormous as the pandemic lies with the government, but we can’t deny that every push matters when the wheels of life begin to creak.

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