When Vasumathy Rangarajan, residing in Chennai's Mylapore, heard about the possible lockdown in Tamil Nadu, she decided to begin an initiative to spread positivity among the frontline workers who were working day and night due to the increasing cases in the state. "It all started in the first week of May before the lockdown when my mother went to get her second vaccine dose at the PHC in CP Ramaswamy road in Mylapore" said Sukanya Rangarajan, her daughter to TheLogicalIndian. "When she saw the healthcare workers running from piller-to-post, running COVID tests and not having the time to even take a break to the restroom." One of the housekeeping staff had mentioned to Vasumathy that even though they bring lunch from home, they do not even have the time to eat. This triggered Vasumathy to sponsor coffee and snacks to the PHC of seven staff in Mylapore.
What began as a one-day sponsorship initiative, soon snowballed into sponsoring meals for eight PHC centres in Chennai. "When I talked to my friends and their friends, help began pouring from all over the place and now we have sponsorships for meals, snacks and coffee for eight PHC centres in Chennai until the second week of June" said Sukanya.
How It Works?
Unlike other organizations and charitable trusts, Sukanya says that this initiative is completely yours. "How it works is that we identify one PHC in Chennai and get our family and friends to sponsor meals or snacks. We simply act as facilitators. If you'd like to sponsor meals for your local PHC, get in touch with the head nurse and you can directly sponsor the meals rather than donating to us" said Sukanya.
Health Workers in Tears
When asked about the initial responses to the snacks and coffee sponsorships, Sukanya vividly remembers that the head nurse of the PHC was in tears. "I remember her saying that its not like we cannot afford to buy coffee, but the lack of time and the mental stress that the pandemic has put them through does not allow them to enjoy a cup of coffee" she says. "She kept saying that even if you give us just one coffee every day, it would be everything." The head nurse also mentioned that this is the first time that people are bringing coffee for the house keeping staff.
Sukanya poignantly mentions that although the health workers were provided the medical training to handle a crisis like the pandemic, they weren't given the mental health training or the caution about the toll it could take on their mental health.
"We decided to provide snacks to the housekeeping staff of a private hospital in T-Nagar with the help of a local caterer that was shut due to COVID."
What began as a family initiative now has 20 plus friends sponsoring more than hundred health care workers across 8-9 PHCs in Chennai. "We have sponsors to supply meals to the PHCs until June 6th-7th" said Sukanya. "We have a Whatsapp group where the sponsor updates us on the food and snacks and the nurses send photos of the food."
Taking One Week At A Time
When asked about the initiative going forward, Sukanya said they're taking one week at a time. "We started this when we thought that a lockdown would begin and now we have sponsorships until June. Every day we have friends, friends of friends asking how they can help their PHC" said Sukanya.
"We also want to help provide food to ten pregnant women in the below poverty line who come to a PHC in Kotturpuram for prenatal and antinatal classes every day. They came to us and asked our help because they lost their job and we're still trying to find a way to help them." Said Sukanya. "This is definitely going to be a long term initiative to help the pregnant women."
#GiveBackChennai currently sponsors 62 meals every day to PHCs in CP Ramaswamy road, RK Nagar, Santhome Road, Rosary Church road and Siet College Road in Chennai. Sukanya Rangarajan, a former health food businesswoman now helps her mother run the initiative by coordinating through Whatsapp groups and sponsoring a local PHC in Old Mahabalipuram Road, Chennai.
Sponsors are welcome to sponsor meals or snacks by contacting Vasumathy Rangarajan at 9840015071.
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