Guwahati: When you go out of your house during the lockdown to get essential items for the household, do you glance at the homeless person standing nearby? The answer is nothing to shy away from, as in times of distress and fear of COVID-19, all you can focus is on how soon you can get the food items so that you can get back to your house to stay safe.
However, such a sight caught the attention of Dipankar Sharma, a resident of Guwahati’s Bhetapara area in Assam, who then decided to do something for the homeless people.
“On the first day of the lockdown, I happened to venture out of my house when I saw a sick, homeless man sleeping on the footpath,” said Sharma. Moved by his plight, Sharma asked him how long he had been there and whether he had had any food. The homeless man then replied that he usually got his food from the leftovers of a certain school but he had no idea as to why the school remained closed for the past three days.
“This shook me to my core, for he didn’t even know the reason of the school being closed and hence had been loitering without food in this heat for three to four days,” added Sharma.
Sharma then went back to his house and brought out some food for the man and continued doing so for the next few days. However, he soon realised that the homeless man that he had been helping would just be one of the countless others — underprivileged individuals who have been disproportionately affected due the lockdown. “My next step then was to sensitise the locals and neighbours around me to help the ones who cannot fend for themselves,” he said.
Sharma then made a crowdfunding option on his Facebook page. “Within 24 hours, friends from all over the place, including the ones abroad, started reaching out to me. I was able to collect a sum of Rs 15,000 after which I asked them to stop.”
The next step was to identify the people who were needy and so with the help of Nipan Sarma and a few people from the neighbourhood Sharma identified 15 such families and started giving them ration on a six-day interval basis.
Sharma didn’t limit himself to humans. He started to arrange food even for the street dogs. “Being an animal lover and an owner of a pet myself, I started giving the street dogs some leftover food items,” he said. After seeing his posts on Facebook, Dr Sashanka Sekhar Dutta from Just Be Friendly, an animal welfare centre, approached him and helped him with 20 kg of dog food.
Sharma is just one of the many people who are doing their part for society, imbibing the true spirit of #OurCoronaFighters during such harsh times.