Coronavirus: From civet cats roaming empty streets to the 98-year-old woman stitching masks for free

This week, even as the coronavirus continued to spread, we saw individuals and organisations stepping up to face various challenges.

Many individuals and organisations are going out of their way to do good despite the pandemic and its long-lasting effects. A lack of humans on the roads has drawn out rare species of animals, and fewer cars on the roads have led to a decrease in carbon dioxide levels in the air, making it easier to breathe.

Even as the coronavirus continued to roil markets, claim more human lives, and cause more economic damage, we saw some glimpses of good this week on SocialStory.

Here are this week’s top social stories:

This 98-year-old woman from Punjab stitches free masks for the poor

Gurdev Kaur Dhaliwal – a 98-year-old woman from Moga, Punjab – stitches protective masks for the needy. She wakes up every morning, finishes her prayers, and sits with her sewing machine from 8 am to 4 pm, stitching. 

Face masks act as the first line of defence against the coronavirus. But, since these masks are relatively expensive, daily wage labourers and underprivileged workers have avoided wearing them.

Gurdev Kaur Dhaliwal

Seeing that vegetable sellers in her neighbourhood were choosing to not wear masks because they were expensive, Gurdev decided to stitch face masks, distribute them among those who couldn’t afford them, for free.

This Class XI student from Delhi has designed a contactless doorbell

While researchers are developing test kits and discovering vaccines in lieu of the coronavirus, Sarthak Jain – a student of Class XI from the Modern Public School, Delhi – has come up with a doorbell that does not require human contact to operate.

Switches, especially doorbells, are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria as they are not something that people clean regularly.

Sarthak and his invention

“I developed an automated, touchless, doorbell with social distancing in mind as even the doorbell is a potential carrier. I programmed it such that when the ultrasonic sensor detects the presence of an individual in the range of 50 centimetres, it responds by producing a buzzer sound,” Sarthak said.

He took help from the Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATL) – a programme for students to build their scientific temper – at Modern Public School, for the project.

Earth Day: With humans indoors due to coronavirus, the planet celebrates and heals itself

From Nilgais of Noida to Malabar Civets of Kozhikode, rare species of animals are valiantly walking into cities, and revisiting old habitats. With factories shut and vehicles off the road, the skies have never looked so blue.

Deer were sighted in Poland, wild turkeys in California, wild pigs in Paris and Olive Ridley turtles on a beach in Odisha. 

Thanks to the lockdown, the AQI in Delhi too has been reduced to 82 as per the latest records, a great relief from when the city’s PM2.5 concentration was as high as 161.

Levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide have also declined.

The Ganga Pollution Control Board recently said the river’s water quality has improved over the past few weeks. River Yamuna has also a reduction in the faecal coliform levels during the lockdown, and is finally free of foam.

This non-profit has distributed over 2 Cr meals to the underprivileged

Amid the lockdown which has brought lives and livelihoods to a halt, Akshaya Patra Foundation has been closely working with civic bodies to prepare freshly cooked meals for the underprivileged.

These meals and relief kits have been distributed in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Delhi and NCR, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

Akshaya Patra has cumulatively served nearly 22 million meals and equivalents, out of which 9.4 million were freshly cooked meals, while 302,541 were relief kits (12.6 million meal servings).

This organisation aims to support 2.5 lakh families over the next three months

ChildFund India, child protection and development organisation, has provided basic hygiene and sanitation items to more than 16,000 people across India, as well as distributed art and craft supplies to nearly 5,000 children, for home-based learning.

The organisation is planning to extend its support to nearly 2.50 lakh families, over the next three months. It has also been educating people on hygiene practices key to preventing a COVID-19 infection.

Edited by Aparajita Saxena