Mumbai-based businessman M.K. Navas formed a group of like-minded individuals in April last year to help those impacted by Covid-19, but he had little idea that the initiative would get a resounding response. Within weeks, Care4Mumbai had people ready to offer money or their time to help those in need, all driven by a common purpose—that no one should go hungry.

It was a tall task at first as the nationwide lockdown had crippled business activity in Mumbai for over a month and thrown people across sectors out of jobs. “We ensured that distressed individuals who reached out to us or whom we were alerted about by people or organisations did not go hungry,” says Priya M. Varghese, an IT professional who oversees Care4Mumbai’s relief work. The 60-strong group of donors, most of whom prefer to be anonymous, includes entrepreneurs, doctors, corporate executives and media professionals.

The group’s efforts continue through the second Covid wave, with over 400 food kits being distributed in the past few days. In all, Care4Mumbai has delivered over 5,000 food kits to the needy in Mumbai, covering slums in Dharavi and Saki Naka and pockets of Dombivli, Thakurli and other areas of the city. Each kit consists of five kilos of rice and wheat flour, pulses, sugar, cooking oil and other items, and costs Rs 700-800. Since physical movement during lockdowns is a challenge, Care4Mumbai gets grocery stores in the vicinity of its target population to deliver the food kits and pays them remotely.

In cities like Mumbai, adversity often goes unnoticed as people may not be comfortable speaking about their problems. Varghese recalls a family in Ulwe, Navi Mumbai, that went hungry for three days before someone alerted Care4Mumbai. “Often, the sole bread-winner passes away due to Covid and the family is in shock for days. It’s heart-rending,” she says.

Varghese cherishes the achievement of distributing 870 food kits on Onam last year. The group also periodically delivers food to a home for HIV girl children in Badlapur on Mumbai’s outskirts. Members also tap their contacts to help those struggling to get Covid drugs, including the now-restricted Remdesivir, and hospital beds. In some cases, what is required is financial help. So far, Care4Mumbai has spent Rs 55 lakh on the treatment of Covid patients. It has also tied up with the Taloja police station in Navi Mumbai to distribute food kits.

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