Monday, 30th October 2017

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Pandemic kindness begets kindness

Financial assistance from Bangalore-based crowdfunding site Milaap has helped Mahinoor Khatun feed more than 1,500 families

By Snehamoy Chakraborty in Burdwan
  • Published 8.05.20, 5:02 AM
  • Updated 8.05.20, 5:02 AM
  • 3 mins read
Mahinoor Khatun delivers foodgrains to the needy. Picture by Munshi Muklesur Rahman

Groups in Bangalore and Pune have come forward with funds to help a Burdwan constable to carry forward her initiative to feed the needy during the lockdown, moved by her gesture to use up her own savings of Rs 2 lakh for the purpose.

Financial assistance of nearly Rs. 6.1 lakh from Bangalore-based crowdfunding site Milaap has helped Mahinoor Khatun feed more than 1,500 families during the month of Ramazan, which began on April 23.

In addition, a group of persons from Pune has pledged to cover her father’s healthcare bills in Bangalore once the lockdown ends.

On April 15, The Telegraph had reported about 37-year-old Mahinoor’s act of benevolence, moved by the site of several families going door to door in her neighbourhood asking for food and ration.

Mahinoor’s gesture — which touched nearly 900 families last month — stood out all the more because she made the choice of breaking her savings even while her ailing father Masud Choudhary, 68, stands in need of receiving advanced medical care for his heart condition.

Choudhary has suffered two cardiac arrests in the last decade and Mahinoor had been planning to take him to Bangalore for advanced care after the lockdown ended. “But seeing poor families moving in hordes in search of food pained me much more,” Mahinoor had said.

“I thank the Bangalore fundraiser and the group from Pune profusely. I am touched to know that help is coming from so far away. Their gesture will allow me to reach even more people,” Mahinoor said on Thursday evening.In addition to Khagragarh, Mahinoor has been reaching out to nearby villages too over the past two weeks with relief including fruits, flour, sugar and other vitals that bear significance for the holy month. She said she would continue relief efforts until Ramazan ended.

So far, Mahinoor has spent around Rs 5 lakh for festive vitals, including the distribution of sweet meats like lachha (fried sweet bread) and simai (vermicelli) among children and families leading up to Id.

“I have put out word in Khagragarh that anyone who is struggling can reach out to me. These funds from far away have empowered me to help more people,” Mahinoor said. The constable, posted to the district enforcement branch, lives with her ailing father and son.

After reports of her generosity were covered by this newspaper last month, a page for her cause was put up on Milaap, a crowdfunding NGO that operates chiefly through its website. On April 21, a target of Rs 6 lakh was posted on the site for her cause and was met within a few days. Sources said Milaap officials even contacted Mahinoor regarding a separate page for her father’s treatment but she declined, given the larger circumstances.

“Some users reached out to us regarding the news article about Mahinoor Khatun. They asked if we could help them to help her. We immediately got in touch with her and helped her to start a fundraiser,” said Mayukh Choudhury, the CEO and co-founder of Milaap, over text message.

“We were hoping to help her with the treatment costs, but she chose to help more underprivileged families instead…. She was positive that the collective needs of those who were struggling to meet their basic needs were more urgent compared to her own. The response was overwhelming. Within days, people have contributed more than her target amount of Rs 6 lakh. She has already withdrawn the funds and helped over 2,500 families,” Choudhury added.

A group of corporate professionals from Pune represented by one Mohan Vamshi contacted Mahinoor separately regarding her father’s treatment last month.

“I thought Mahinoor was doing something phenomenal. Very few can dig into their savings to help the larger society out and so it was our duty to help her with everything we could. I along with my two friends, Venkat and Parvez, will take care of her father’s treatment,” said Vamshi.

Khagragarh residents are overwhelmed by Mahinoor’s gesture.

“We don’t know whether we could even have observed Roza (fast) if it wasn’t for her,” said Remisha Biwi, a widow, who lives in Khagragarh with her daughter.

“We lost our jobs as domestic help and there was no help in sight. Not only is Mahinoor helping us to live in this difficult time, she is also acting as our saviour,” Remisha added.