During the first and second waves of pandemic, many lost jobs and their earnings were wiped out entirely. People have been struggling to make ends meet as it became difficult to cover the hospital bills and daily meals due to the state-imposed lockdowns.
Nothing could stop Highland Islamic Forum (HIF) India, from helping people with the initiative ‘Feed the needy’. HIF is a non-profit organisation founded in 2012 with the goal of promoting peace in India’s secular societies. During this lockdown, the team has been delivering free meals to the needy, bringing a glimpse of hope to countless number of people.
Speaking to News Karnataka, Rizwan Pandeshwar, Convener, Team H.I.F Covid Warriors, said that, “We work as a bridge between the privileged and the underprivileged, collecting zakat and sadaqa (donations) from generous contributors to satisfy the immediate needs of the destitute and underprivileged for self-sufficiency, housing, medical care, food, and relief material during natural calamities.”
When asked about Covid relief activities during the first and second waves, Rizwan mentioned that under the supervision of Sajid A.K, President HIF, the team supplied over 4100 free ration packages to the poor in Dakshina Kannada areas, primarily in Belthangady, Udupi, Mangaluru, and Uppinagady. They also offered former Mayor Divakar, MLA Vedavyas Kamath, corporators Naveen D’Souza and Abdul Rouf hundreds of free ration kits to distribute in their respective localities.
“During the lockdown, we were able to give 12 wheelchairs and medical supplies to Covid and non-Covid patients. In all 51 Covid death funerals were done at Masjid ul Ehsaan mosque by team HIF_ INDIA. We have a ‘Feed the Needy’ project that has been running for 67 days and is still running strong even today. 175 free dinners were given to the hospitalised patients and bystanders as part of the programme, and 300 dinners were given to PG students and medical staffs,” he added.
Rizwan went on to explain that the public’s response has been overwhelming. The team came to know that in few places white rice and dal were being sold for Rs. 25 per packet. “We hired a cook and provided quality food worth Rs. 60/- free of charge after discovering this. Even if few were financially secure, the lockdown made it difficult to get food and people were delighted to get HIF’s high-quality food,” said Rizwan.
He also stated that some people offered donations in exchange for the services they were providing, but they refused to accept them with due respect.
Sharing the unforgettable experiences Rizwan said how they came across a Covid patient in a Mangaluru hospital who was financially stable but was having difficulty obtaining good food. “The family members waited for the food packets we were delivering for around 20 minutes in line. It was nice to see them leave extremely happy,” he added.
He cited another incident about a Covid patient who was being treated in a Mangaluru hospital. Soon after, his father died, and the son wished to see him one last time. “HIF volunteers took note of this and decided to show the body to his son. Our volunteers took care of the bathing and Kafan rituals before bringing the patient to the hospital. The team assisted in taking the patient, who was wearing his oxygen mask, to the hospital yard. It was sad to see both son and father laying next to each other in two stretchers, saying their goodbyes,” he added.
In addition, HIF’s team of experts provided Covid patients with expert guidance and counselling. Around 30 volunteers are working round the clock behind this initiative.
Rizwan concludes saying that, “We are all just like travellers in this world. Our final destination is to return to God. Anyone can face bad times or difficulties. As life is so short, let us make it as peaceful as possible by assisting one another and be blessed.”