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Shalini - Volunteering to help those affected by the pandemic!

Ever since the second wave has hit us, we have been hearing distressing news over and over again! People who are affected by the virus are either trying their best to recover from it or are just helpless as they don't know what to do!

In such a distressing scenario, yet we hear stories of people going out of their ways and helping those who are lost in the dark. One such story is of Shalini Magda Das. She is a volunteer from Kolkata and has been offering help in many ways so that people can overcome their difficulties during this Pandemic! 

We reached out to Shalini and it was so grateful of her to take out some precious time from her volunteering hours and share her experience with us all.

1. How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers? 

Hi, I am Shalini and I am digitally known as @lostloveadventure.
I am a 25-year-old crazy adult. I am a travel journalist and a social media strategist, living in different parts of India according to my mood and climate. 

2. As we know you love volunteering, when did the seed of volunteering get sowed in you?

Since I was 6 years old, my first volunteering job was what my mom told me was that I was supposed to keep quiet and make other kids stay quiet in an NGO where she took me for cultural exchange activities and since then there has been no stopping. I have worked for - 
  • Medical and Social Outreach Program providing medical help
    at Ramnagar Abad
  • Visiting and motivating patients at Leprosy Mission, Kolkata
  • Volunteering and motivating children affected by AIDS
    at Arunima Hospice, Kolkata
  • Volunteered as a translator at Mahima Home, Kolkata
  • Participated in Turtle Walk in Chennai organized by SSTCN |
    9th Feb 2018
  • Ran Fundraising Video Project for Samadhan Delhi | Aug 2017
  • Participated in an Integrated Course In Christian Education
    at India Sunday School Union, Coonoor | May 2015
  • Attended 6th Kingdom Media Conference | Sep 2015
  • Associated with CRY Kolkata for its Social Media projects
  • Member of the Twinning Committee of St. James’ Church, Kolkata |
    2016 onward
  • And so on 

3. What was that turning point that made you reach out to people affected by the pandemic? 

Well, last year I was stuck in Amritsar with my fellow travel mates from different parts of the world. We struggled to get food as section 144 was imposed back then. None of us were positive but we were quarantined for 82 days, initially in those days we even lived on boiled eggs.
In 2021 Jan, I had to resume work and that lead me to travel again, things were getting bad by March 2021 and I had news coming in, I decided to come back and be with my parents in Kolkata. I came back to Kolkata on the 6th of April 2021 and since the next day, I started delivering free food to Covid positive families or individuals. 
There was no turning point, I knew that when families are affected how bad the situation can be, so the least I wanted a family or anyone to worry about is food. 
I know where an empty stomach can lead a person to, I have experienced it. 
I even took suggestions from my doctor friends and they suggested a good meal which will help a person recover better, faster! And then there was no looking back. I bought groceries with the money I had and decided to do what best I can. 
 

4. Could you share with us in what ways you are offering help to people who are battling with COVID? 

I am doing whatever is possible. I am helping out people all around Kolkata if there is an emergency, but mainly delivering food, medicine across Bondle gate, Ballyguange, Picnic garden, Kasba area. 
On the Online platform, I am helping people across every state in India as much as I can. I am verifying leads, keeping a tab of oxygen and beds and ICU availability. I am also sensitizing people on not to panic and keep calm in a different situation. I even pick up my phone and talk to random strangers who are at home suffering from Covid just to check how they are doing how they are feeling as isolation is hard. 

5. How do you manage to purchase, sort out things and deliver them to the people who need your help? 

Oh, a diary and pen is always handy. I keep making a list of all that I need and at night before I sleep I add them into cart in case of an online order and if instantly I need anything I go and grab it from the nearest shop, sometimes due to the uncertainty of shops being closed or unavailable, then I even ask my neighbors shamelessly. 
For purchasing medicine, I have made a list of friends who stay close to the medicine shop, I send all of them a text when it's an emergency. Oh! they aren't useless as I thought they would be in life (just kidding), they get it for me.
People have been super supportive. For delivery, I finally found a person to whom I explained all that I am doing and he was kind enough to say he will help. Sometimes, I or my friends all take turns to deliver things or else online delivery services are being opted for. 

6. Do you work single-handedly? Or do you have a dedicated team to help you out? 

Well, my team consists of my mother and my sister-in-law. Even though they both work at emergency services, they help me with the cooking and packing, rest I do it all single-handedly.

It is easy, you just have to prioritize, be quick in making decisions,
and get into the system. I have to mention that all my friends, followers, many unknown people had come forward and helped me with grocery and medicine, and food containers from different places. So my team is everyone who has been helping or has helped over the period of time. 

7. May we know how many hours you spend in your volunteering activity?

All-day long 24*7 in the last 7+weeks 

8. Knowing the dire situation we all are in, how do you manage to subdue your fear and continue to help? 

You can't let your fears rule you hence I am ruling my fears. Just wanted to sound cool, Hahahhahaa! I am scared but when I look around, I keep it aside. I keep reminding myself that I have to be smart enough to think and do it the right way so that I can keep myself and the people around me safe, yet be able to help as many as I can.
Also,I can't just let people be in that different situation just because I am scared. They are equally scared, too. People should be and then only we will know the gravity of the situation we are in. My fear isn't stopping me but fueling my inner conscience. 

9. Is there a way in which our readers can reach out to you for assisting you in your cause or for asking help?

Call/whatsapp me - +91 74395 88802 
Or Dm me - https://instagram.com/lost_loveadventure
The food we are delivering is about a full nutrition meal, I have made a chat with the help of few doctor friends. So far I have been able to send out food, grocery to over 600+ families.
Last year during the first wave I have relocated about 98 foreigners, while I was stuck in Amritsar and came back to Kolkata on a Shyamik train on 15th May 2020 and then from June 2020 I started giving out food, grocery, old clothes.
Covered more than 1000+ families. It's not about the money but the willingness to do it. A lot of people told me that you must be very rich I had only 5000rs of gas at home I bought a grocery of 4000 and started cooking and giving out food and then people just came forward to help, I work all evening and night and buy, cook, delivery all morning and afternoon.
I just want to start receiving texts that say - "we are negative and doing better." I want to see better days super soon hence I am selfish, I am putting in extra effort for better days.
 
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