Ever since the first phase of lockdown was announced in India, many unsung heroes have come to the forefront to help those in need. And among them is a group of cyclists in Manipur who have been feeding the homeless during this crisis period. Here’s their story. By Kumar Shree
Cyclist Philem Rohan Singh from Manipur was on his Delhi to Japan track when the first lockdown was announced in March. In light of the new development, he had to break his trip in Kolkata and return to his home state. Upon reaching there, he gathered his friends and started distributing food to people who were left helpless because of the lockdown. They came across 30 homeless people residing in Imphal, the state capital’s main market.
As reported by India Times, Singh said, “Since late March, we have been providing them with food, at least one meal a day. But now since the lockdown has been intensified and there is the fear of community transmission of COVID-19, we are struggling to reach them every day.”
So far Singh and his friends have spent more than INR 3,00,000 for the cause. The sum has come from donations; the group is also selling their campaign T-shirt to accumulate funds. The team of 20 volunteers (out of which 10 are cyclists) set out on their cycles every day to give food to the needy. As the lockdown in the region has become more intense, it has started bringing forth several roadblocks for the group. Earlier, they used to have a dedicated cooking team but now they are not accessible because of stricter measures. In their absence, five of these homeless people who benefit from the group have taken up the cooking task. The group provides utensils and other necessities while these five volunteers take care of the cooking bit.
“We will continue to feed them, but there is a limit to what we can do. What if the COVID-19 situation gets worse and we are not able to reach these people. I am more concerned about them than us. We have been trying to get some government help for them. I hope that they can do something for the homeless,” he said.
Singh has been associated with many similar initiatives in the past. Previously, he has also cycled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to raise awareness about water conservation.