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Feed Karnataka: A team effort in battle against Covid

Feed Karnataka A Team Effort In Battle Against Covid 01
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Over the past two and half months, the Bhuvanam Foundation has been working round the clock to serve the people in need. The foundation, started by actors Bhuvann Ponnanna and Harshika Poonacha and a few friends, have thus saved over 16000 families in dire straits. While Bhuvanam stirred into action during the second wave of the pandemic, the team has been working in the field of social service across the state for the last 5 – 6 years.

Their initiative, ‘Feed Karnataka’, has provided several underprivileged families with ration kits over the past years. In the first lockdown, the team helped migrant labourers reach their hometowns.

The team received six to eight thousand calls per day during the second lockdown. They then diversified into three helplines and nine WhatsApp groups to manage the distress calls that were pouring in every single day and immediately started on-ground services.

Speaking to News Karnataka, Bhuvann said, “We received thousands of desperate calls each day. These were people from the lowest strata of the society, living in remote villages who didn’t have the means to feed their families or turn to proper medical assistance. We built a network of resourceful people on WhatsApp groups that would work on these individual cases every single day. In a month, the number of families that we were able to assist tallied to 350.”

The team then analysed the calls and looked into the needs of the people. The research concluded that people were in urgent need of oxygen supply, ventilators, beds, masks, sanitisers, medicines, food and ration in these dark times. So, the team started the initiatives ‘Svasa’ – which were buses supplying oxygen to those in need; and ‘Bandhawa’- which is a free auto-rickshaw service that helped people commute and deliver essentials to the doorstep of the distressed.

 The team has around 20 volunteers who work day in and day out for the people. Their efforts also focus on creating awareness campaigns in villages on vaccination and  COVID – 19 protocol. The team also donned PPE kits and visited COVID wards, dancing for and entertaining COVID patients to grace them with positive energy and entertainment to fight through their tough times.

The initiative took flight in Bengaluru but ended up spreading its wings across the state. “We have now covered nearly the entire state, moving from Bengaluru to Tumkur, Kodagu, Mangaluru, Chitradurga, Belagavi, etc.,” said Bhuvann.

The duo of actors is funding the project solely through their hard-earned money and are personally and heavily involved with the activities of the foundation, carrying out the day-to-day tasks along with the team whilst being ambassadors for COVID safety. “We make sure that help is given to the people at their doorstep. We do not want people to gather in large groups anywhere, hence we personally go to them,” added Bhuvann.

Talking about the challenges they faced, Harshika said, “The main challenge that we faced was the shortage of manpower. It is risky work and not everyone is willing to come forward. When we visit families in sealed off houses and patients in hospitals, the fear of catching the virus is always there. Our team is incredibly perseverant towards serving the people despite the fear they face. We take utmost care and caution to make sure only vaccinated members following the proper protocol of  mask and hand hygiene carry out these demanding tasks.”

While the service demands a practical and cool-headed approach in the face of such trying times, Harshika detailed the emotional toll the job takes. “Working so closely with these unfortunate families who do not have the means to put food on the table and witnessing deaths was emotionally very challenging. But fortunately, with the support of Bhuvann and our amazing team, we have been able to keep our heads up and surge forward.”

The team travels long hours every single day to help families in remote areas. While the lockdown has postponed shoots, the initiative has kept the team on its toes. Harshika added, “While I have not been working on sets, Bhuvanam became my full-time job.”

The foundation is here for the long haul. “Bhuvanam is going to be here forever. We want it to go on even when we aren’t here,” said Harshika. “No one is working for personal gain or money. We are here to serve the people. We put in our own savings so that we are not answerable to anyone. To me, happiness is in giving. When we leave, we don’t take anything with us. It is about the good we do and the impact we create.” she concluded.

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