COVID-19 pandemic: Social organisations provide food to needy
Disha Marwaha, an intern in the execution team was phone interviewed about her experiences as a part of the Youth Empowerment Foundation and how she and her team has been working for the good cause of distributing food to the one’s deprived of it.
When did you start working with YEF?
I started working with Youth Empowerment Foundation on 21 May, 2020. Before joining I checked out their Instagram page and I liked the work they were doing. Plus I really liked the position there were offering me.
Are you working as an Intern, Volunteer or as a permanent employee?
I am working as an intern in this organization nder the operations department where I chose to be the head of volunteers and then in that sub divison I got into the Execution team.
Can you explain the whole process that takes place in the Execution team?
We ask for some documents then we would take his/her statement like the difficulties they were facing because of the lockdown. After the verification process, we have to move on to the transaction part where the beneficiary would go to a nearby ration store, buy the essentials (under 500 or 700 depending on the family members) and then after confirming the identity of the ration shop owner we would transfer the money to his google pay account and in return the shopkeeper would send the photograph of the bill, items bought by the beneficiary. Once the transaction is done, we are told to maintain the record of it all in the Google sheets. Now this whole process has got modified into 3 sub-divisions. So now the verification and the maintenance of record part is done by the other 2 teams.
What is your task in the team?
My role now is to call the beneficiary tell them to go to the ration shop do the transaction and pass the bill and transaction receipt along with photographs to the record maintaining team. Of course I still am maintaining a record of this whole procedure on my end.
What documents do you ask to verify the cases?
First we have to get the number of the beneficiaries from the volunteers and then call the beneficiaries, collect their info and documents like Adhaar card/ ration card number so as to make sure that the person we have contacted is legit.
How many cases do you come across in a day?
I am actually not sure of that because it's the job of the verification team. They maintain the record of the verified cases. Then I have to take those cases one by one from the verification sheet. So it’s mostly how many cases I close in a day and that ranges from 3 to 5.
How many cases have you taken up till now?
Oh that's a lot!! I have lost count according to my records, it's about 60 and still counting……
After providing them the necessities who takes care of the needy ones that u helped?
So I do check in on then after 2-5 days to make sure that everything is okay. Sometimes they call me to thank or show gratitude.
How does that make u feel?
At first I was really in shock because sometimes when I would call them to verify some of them would start crying and it really made me realise that hunger is a big thing. Of course, it's a bit difficult to understand when you have never felt that agonising pain of wanting food and not having enough resources or strength to get that for yourself. When I talk to them after they have received ration and the blessings they shower it's something I have really come to treasure.
That is really a kind gesture.
All thanks to YEF!!!
How do you get the information about the cases?
As I mentioned earlier it was the volunteers who brought in the information of the beneficiaries. Then Ram sir started this helpline number where people who needed monetary help started calling and then Sir started passing on the number of those people we were supposed to verify. Now this whole thing is done by the verification Team only.
What exactly is a Rapid Response helpline?
See at first it was really small scale. I mean of course our volunteers were working but that collective effort was still very vague because there was so much ambiguity but when the helpline started it sorted things out because now people had an outlet. They had a source they could rely on and call. Not only this they could pass it on to other people they knew who were in the same situation and now the benficiaries were contacting us and we didn't have to reach out to them so it made things easy.
What difficulties do you face in this process?
We faced problems related to shortage of funds. So that's like our main problem but that didn't last long thankfully!! Next would be the language barrier. I had to contact 2-3 people from south and I couldn't understand what they were saying but that was handled by one of the volunteers. Next problem would be (and it's a common yet very small scale problem) beneficiaries not picking up the call and then either calling back at the wrong time (I have received calls at 11 in the night) or not calling at all (in which if their name gets marked red then that means that case becomes a cold case or they are called back again but after a few weeks)
It might be too tiring sometimes isn't it?
It used to but now it's pretty easy since the process has been modified. I am not alone doing this so that's a relief. Harshit and Abhinav are in the execution. Team as well so they do help during the transactions when I am out of funds.
What exactly does a name getting red mean in the list?
When we complete a case, we mark it green in the Google sheet. If we are on a case then we mark it orange to avoid confusion so that someone else doesn't take it up. Nhi toh funds 2 baar transfer hone k chances rehte hai. When we can't reach the beneficiary or that person has already received the ration before (and they calm again) we mark that red. By red it means that no one is supposed to take up the case.
Do you think that YEF is successfully achieving its goals?
Yes, and I believe that they will continue to do so.
Any final words you would like to share with us?
Well…..I am really enjoying what I do here at YEF and I have seen growth through collective team effort. I got to pitch in new ideas and got to experience all the modifications 1st hand. All in all it has been great.