BPP sets up helplines to send essentials to senior citizens during lockdown

Updated: Apr 01, 2020, 07:48 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

The Parsi community is also mobilising volunteers through messaging groups

Ronny Patel
Ronny Patel

The nationwide lockdown has left senior citizens, who are wholly dependent on their domestic helps for their daily household chores, extremely helpless. In order to help the senior citizens within the Parsi community, the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) has set up two helplines to deliver essential supplies like food and medicines, and they are also mobilising volunteers through several messaging groups.

The BPP started two helpline numbers on Sunday that operate from 9 am to 9 pm and since then, they have received over 70 phone calls from senior citizens asking for food and medicines. Ronny Patel, a community member, who is manning one of the helpline numbers from his home, said that he has received calls from South Mumbai to Andheri and even from Khandala. "Majority of the calls has been from senior citizens living outside the Parsi colonies. They all used to avail tiffin services but they have been stopped due to the lockdown. We have about 40-50 volunteers who use their own vehicles to deliver the essentials," he said.

He added that senior citizens mostly ask for cooked food and many members of the community have volunteered to send home-cooked food for them.

Apart from this, a couple of caterers from the community have also offered to prepare meals for them. Patel said that they were forming a database of other caterers or groups that are reaching out to senior citizens. "There is a Gujarati group that is helping senior citizens who live alone. We will reach out to them as well to pool in our resources," he said.

Kersi Randeria, a BPP trustee, said that they have set up around 15 messaging groups on WhatsApp for the Parsi colonies in the city. They comprise the BPP trustees and four to five active members from each of the colonies. "When we get a request on the helpline, we put out the message in the relevant WhatsApp group and someone from the group volunteers to help. We have even formed another group of around 50 volunteers, who deliver the food," he said.

Randeria added that the Mumbai Police recently issued passes to some of the volunteers, who need to drive around to deliver the food. "Those who are saying they don't have money, the BPP is helping them out. We are also financially helping the caterers who are supplying food to the senior citizens," he said.

The BPP has also arranged for protective equipment like masks and gloves for the volunteers who are delivering food. Randeria said that they were forming a group of doctors and nurses who could help in case someone from the community needs medical attention.

Speaking to mid-day, Hoshang Malu, 75, and his wife Perveen, 75, residents of Dahisar, said that they were relieved that the BPP had started the helpline numbers.

"My wife is suffering from a kidney infection and arthritis. She is bedridden. Previously, we had a maid who would cook for us. But now that she is unable to come, we have asked the helpline to provide us with tiffin service," Hoshang said.

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