Srinagar: As soon as the administration in Jammu and Kashmir ordered a lockdown in view of coronavirus pandemic last month, Faizan Hasan Khan who runs Mukhtar Memorial Society, a Non-Governmental Organisation in Srinagar understood that he had to get his team ready for the tough and tiring days ahead.
Kashmir had already faced a lockdown for months after August 2019, then a harsh winter set in.
Faizan, who has been in social service for years, knew that the financially weak sections of the society are going to be in further trouble and he had to do something to reach out to them.
“When I expressed my desire in front of my family that I am going to do this, they outrightly rejected. My mother said I was father of an 8 month old son and I need to think about him,” says Faizan.
At first, he stayed put but couldn’t hold back when he started receiving distress calls from people in need.
“I said to my family the poor too have kids at home and they have nothing to eat. Finally they somehow agreed, I guess when nothing works in Kashmir the emotional card always does. Someone has rightly said that we are the most compassionate race in present times,” said Faizan with a smile on his face.
He knew it was not going to be easy as this crisis was quite different than a flood or an earthquake.
Whosoever was going out to help people was at high risk of getting infected.
“So we decided to keep manpower as low as possible and we narrowed in to team of four: Adv. Faizan Bhat, Er. Aijaz Ahmad, Er. Nayra Majid and myself,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
Faizan’s office was far from his home so he converted his residence into a makeshift focal point of supply from where he continues to operate till now.
“The next day we got the raw materials to prepare food kits for the families and stocked the same at my home. Nayra who is also my better half was handling the distress calls and messages, besides doing the daily household chores and looking after our son,” he said.
The other three members, Faizan said, would prepare food kits and then in pairs would go out and deliver it to the deserving persons after conducting verification and taking all necessary precautions.
‘We would go out in alternate pairs.The first few days were fine but when the restrictions got tougher we were added to a WhatsApp group Relief Coalition which had few other organisations and individuals working on the same lines. This helped a lot as we divided areas and now had to cater to just downtown Srinagar,” he said.
This group of NGOs and volunteers was a team of more than 100 people who were looking after each district in Kashmir.
“We were also assisted by District Disaster Management Authority Srinagar which provided us with vehicular support to reach out to the families when things got worse,” he said.
So far, Mukhtar Memorial Society have provided food kits to more than 400 families.
The value of one kit is around a thousand rupees. The NGO says it doesn’t believe in photo ops.
“Don’t ask us for such proof! But yes we have kept a record of all the beneficiaries,” he said.
Faizan also appreciated the work carried out by many other organisations and anonymous individuals.
“Be it Athrout, HPVT, ELFA, Ehsaas and others, they all have done a tremendous job so far. One organisation or individual can never be sufficient for handling such a crisis, it has to be a collective effort. We are still doing our bit and hope for a dawn that will end this pain and suffering for the whole human kind,” he said.