How To Be Useful During India’s Covid-19 Crisis

May 2, 2021

There’s 4 types of people on the internet amidst the Covid-19 crisis in India.

  1. People who are suffering and desperately asking for help.
  2. People who are arguing about whose fault it is and whom to blame.
  3. People whose fault it really is but are finding other things to blame.
  4. People who are shutting out the noise and finding ways to be useful to type 1 people.

If you’re lucky enough to not have anyone in your close family in a dire situation, then be type 4 and help someone out and be useful.

It’s commonly theorised that when humanity faces a great common threat (movies typically go with alien invasions), that’s when we would forget nations, boundaries, religions and other rules that we use to to divide ourselves.

During times of crisis that spares no one, humanity must unite. Now is such a time.

If you’re privileged like me (high likelihood that you are if you are reading this from the peace of your home), then consider being useful to others.

Donate your money

You earn a comfortable salary or income. You don’t have any large bills or loans to pay. You have a fairly comfortable safety net.

Consider donating one month’s salary to a few initiatives that are focusing on

  • Food for the underprivileged
  • Sanitary napkins for underprivileged women
  • Oxygen concentrators for hospitals

While I listed out a few places you can donate to in my previous post, here’s a Notion doc that the DelightChat tribe put together a list of places to donate to.

Tribe members including Sankalp and myself have donated to one or more places from this list. We excluded our names so that you make your own decision on which initiatives you want to donate to.

Donate your time

Unable to donate money, or already donated but looking for more ways to contribute? Consider donating your time.

A few members of our tribe are volunteering their programming skills for projects such as IndiaVaccine and IndiaCovidResources.

Others are helping their friends and friends of friends by searching for verified leads for their requirements. Yet others have signed up at their local gurudwara to distribute food kits to those who need it.

If you browse Twitter, you will see dozens of groups that have organised themselves and need volunteers to help them with various tasks, from talking to caretakers and patients to verifying leads to tech and operations help

Pick any group and message them with “Hey I can do X, Y, Z and I have T hours per day to give. How can I help?”

Donate your product

At DelightChat, we observed that a lot of groups are creating new resources. We wanted to find a way to support existing ones by powering their operations.

I’m really glad that we have been able to contribute DelightChat’s product to the initiative by TheProductFolks, where patients or caretakers can message a WhatsApp number and get connected to verified leads through a network of volunteers.

For this, we built a simple WhatsApp bot that classifies incoming requests based on the menu option selected, and then connects those chats to volunteers on the DelightChat dashboard where 100s of people can simultaneously provide help, all via the same number.

We will be building additional functionality to our product based on the requirements of TheProductFolks team in order to make the work of volunteers as seamless as possible.

If you run a startup, or work in one whose product can provide beneficial to all the volunteer-driven groups and organisations that are working in the frontlines, considering donating your product.

Donate empathy and compassion

If you’re a founder, be empathetic to your team’s needs. They may have families, cousins, close friends, or people they know who are severely afflicted by the Covid crisis and need their help.

Right now is not the time to push engineering to hit their sprint targets. Right now is not the time to push marketing to come up with a creative new acquisition campaign. Right now isn’t the time to try and “get ahead”.

After all, what is the point of hitting targets and getting ahead if people all around you are suffering and dying? Your monthly targets, weekly reviews, and daily meetings are pointless in the face of such a crisis. You feel it, your team feels it. Let it go for a while.

At DelightChat, we have asked the team to treat the second half of each day as a time to either volunteer at initiatives they want to, take time off for their mental health, or work if they want to keep themselves busy. We have halved our weekly work targets on purpose, so that people don’t feel stressed as if they have to deliver.

Why not completely remove work from the equation? Well, turns out the act of waking up every day and following a schedule and having some sense of stability is really important to mental health. Getting up and talking to each other at 10am about the day keeps us sane.

Apart from that, consider messaging your friends who you might not have spoken to in a while. Just ask if they are alright. Hopefully most are fine, some may have gone through a lot recently. You being there even slightly can be the support that gives them some relief.

One day at a time

These are unprecedented times. Nobody has a manual on how to act or behave and sail through these times. Everyone is figuring it out as they go.

Take it slow. Take it easy. Take it one day at a time.

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