Yuva - India

The Promise Bank

India Cares is a team of volunteers who have been assisting people in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. They began their journey in April 2020 and are winning many hearts by being that one ray of hope in people’s time of distress. A new initiative by the team, the ‘Promise Bank’ has now been started with.

To learn more about India Cares and the ‘Promise Bank’, GoaChronicle approached Tejas Shelar who is one of the hardworking volunteers of team India Cares. When asked about the commencement of India Cares’ operations, Tejas told us, “Basically, India Cares was started in April last year, when the first lockdown was announced. Before that, a lady from Mumbai had posted a tweet as she needed camel milk from Rajasthan for her autistic child. That request was picked by IPS officer Arun Bothra sir and he got the thing done through his sources. This was the starting point. What happened was that after this, Arun sir started getting a lot of requests from people who required help. That was when he came up with this volunteer-based organization where we can bring together volunteers who are willing to help everybody via attending to their requests across all social media platforms.”

“This is how the organization started. Then we made our groups on Twitter and WhatsApp. Then we started adding volunteers to the groups and within the first months, around 500-600 of them were added. Afterward, when the work was augmented, more than 4000 were added. Today, we have more than 3000 volunteers on the ground all across India and on Twitter alone, we have around 10,000 to 12,000 volunteers who are catering to virtual requests and are getting the job done online”, he added.

Talking about how he joined the organization and his experience, Tejas said, “Basically, on the first day itself, when the group was made on telegram, I had joined India Cares. That is how I came in contact with Arun sir and everyone else. After monitoring the group activities, Arun sir saw that the work was getting done properly, and hence, he chose some of the volunteers to lead other people, directing them about how to get the work done properly so that the request is not only taken into consideration but it is also verified on the ground to make sure it is truly being done. Since that time, we have been working with India Cares; for 14 months now. And the group has expanded a lot more. Core members have increased as well. That is how we get the requests fulfilled by other people also; we work on them ourselves too. And if the ground volunteers feel like they wouldn’t be able to do it then we take it to get it done- either through private or official contacts in the government.”

Talking about the modus operandi which is followed by the volunteers, Tejas let us know, “For instance, if there is a request asking for blood, we have formed our groups looking after these requests region-wise and we have taken donors who are readily available in that region, district or state. First, we confirm with the attendant that how many units are required and then we contact the donors directly. Many times, our volunteers only come forward to donate and their friends and family members get on-board too. We even talk with the blood bank or the district collector directly if needed.

Secondly, if there is a request for medicine, first we make sure that all the government protocols are followed. We make sure that the official request is put up by the hospital and if the hospital doesn’t coordinate, we make sure that the hospital does so by contacting them so that people don’t go to the black market to buy these expensive medicines.

We also connect the people in need with the pharma companies who have an official helpline telling how to get things done so that medicines are made available on the official MRP and people don’t lose their money in the black market. In cases where some drugs were not available in the particular state, we have officially got it delivered from other states by getting it shipped by train or flight. And we do not charge anyone; everything is free of cost to everybody. Not even shipping charges are taken.”

“All the officials who are connected with us and are working in their zones, take the medicines and then get it delivered free of cost on behalf of India Cares, and even they don’t charge anything. They do it on a pro bono basis to help people.

Recently, IndiGo airlines joined us. On their flights, they take the crucial medicines and we provide them with all the legal documents which are required. And they get it delivered at a certain airport where they are needed for critical cases. They are doing it free of cost for India Cares too. First, they saw our work and then they willingly joined to help us get the resources shipped. For two months, Blue Dart was on board with us. They helped us a lot with getting medicines and oxygen concentrators transferred. Resources like ration and building material were also delivered to people in Gujarat who were affected by cyclone Tauktae. Again, Blue Dart did this free of cost”, said the India Cares volunteer.

“Every day, we receive more than 200-300 requests on Twitter alone. Other requests are received through various other social media platforms. We make sure that we attend to 70-80% of the daily requests and we take up the critical demands first, that is our priority”, said Tejas about the daily requests the organization receives.

About their new initiative, the ‘Promise Bank,’ Tejas told us, “When our work was recognized on Twitter and through other media and many people got to know about India Cares. Then, people started telling us they wanted to donate and assist us in what we do. But our policy since day 1 has been to not take any cash donations; neither do we have an office nor a bank account. It is a virtual network of volunteers. As we do not take money, we thought of coming up with the ‘promise bank’ through which, instead of taking money, we take promissory notes from people who want to help in kind or cash; arrange resources or pay someone’s fees and we connect to the people in need. We are coordinators of the promised bank where the promise is made by the donor to help in any way they want and we simply connect them with people who need that kind of assistance. We make sure that everything is done properly, and those in need receive the help.”

“Many people say that they are ready to pay somebody’s school fees; ration; medicines, hospital expenses or school fees. We just connect points A and B because we are aware of where the needy people are and we verify the requests so that the donor’s money does not get into the wrong hands. We then establish direct contact between them,” he added.

Tejas also informed us about certain important activities India Cares regularly indulges in, “If you see our Twitter timeline, we recently had got many oxygen concentrators from different sources. We gave around 100 oxygen concentrators to different regions and also to people with temporary needs, free of cost. We have sent concentrators to Leh and Ladakh, northeastern states, Mumbai, one was recently sent to an orphanage in Pune which is CARA registered. There was a case in Vishakhapatnam wherein they needed a 10L oxygen concentrator and it was not available for rent there and where it was available, the charge could not have been afforded by the patient. So, we shipped one from Gujarat via IndiGo and it reached Vishakhapatnam the next day. We provide not only medical but all sorts of help. Our volunteers have also gone out of their way to get people’s ration cards made so that they could enjoy the benefits of government schemes about which many of them aren’t even aware. We talk to the authorities and ensure the benefits are provided to the people.”

He further said, “This way, we operate pan-India. Except for Andaman and Nicobar, there is no such region in the country where we have not attended to or fulfilled a request. Now, after the promised bank, our long-term plan is to get those people who like to make donations on particular days like birthdays or anniversaries connected to eligible receivers. We have begun with this too.”

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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