Keen to help amid coronavirus crisis, 5-year-old from Delhi raises Rs 1 lakh to feed the poor
The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 265,084 lives, globally, with nearly 3.8 million positive cases, according to Worldometer, a world statistics assemblage. Researchers, governments, healthcare workers, and other essential personnel have been tirelessly working to better the situation in their own capacities.
In India, the government extended the official lockdown, for the third time, till May 18, for the safety and protection of citizens, and announced several relief measures such as compensation packages, and special trains to help daily wagers and migrant labourers get home.
Several NGOs and individuals have joined hands over the last six weeks to come to people's aid, providing them with food, rations, face masks, and other essentials.
One such inspiring individual is Aranya Dutt Bedi, a five-year-old girl from New Delhi, who tried to donate the money she had in her piggy bank to help. She soon realised that she would need a lot more money than what was in her piggy bank, and decided to create and sell an illustrated book for children to explain precautionary measures they must take against the novel coronavirus.
"I saw from the balcony that there were so many persons who do not have food to eat..So many people had lined up in long queues only to eat food. I wrote this book because I wanted to sell it online and raise money to arrange food for these people,” Aranya told ANI News.
Aranya has been drawing since she was two-and-a-half years old. Her book follows a girl named Tiya who loves the outdoors and spends her summers outside in the parks. But, because of the coronavirus outbreak, she is forced to stay indoors.
The book entitled ‘Be calm with coronavirus’ stresses on preventive measures, and outlines various things children can do to help them pass time during the lockdown.
It also leaves readers with an important message – the lockdown isn’t a punishment.
“We have a government school close by where food distribution takes place on a daily basis. As I, along with my daughters, stand in the balcony, we see people lining up to get food and the queue gets so long that it reaches all the way to our house. Aranya has been seeing this harsh reality,” Vijay Bedi, Aranya’s father, told NDTV.
“One day she said, ‘I need to help the poor people because they don’t have any food to eat’ and asked if she can give money from her piggy bank.”
Aranya has partnered with UNICEF and the Akshaya Patra Foundation, who have been distributing hygiene essentials and food to daily-wage and migrant workers over the last couple of weeks, to donate whatever money comes in from her endeavour, and help feed the underprivileged.
“I have put her book on my website and it is available for free download. Whoever enjoys reading ‘Be calm with coronavirus’ can donate to either UNICEF, or The Akshaya Patra Foundation, or both. The donation directly goes to these organisations,” Aranya’s father says.
The five-year-old has raised a total of Rs 1 lakh, of which Rs 52,000 has been donated to the Akshaya Patra Foundation. That sum will help the foundation serve 2,000 meals, or provide 61 essential ration kits to the poor.
Aranya feels a sense of relief because she believes that she has done something to help the vulnerable workers. She plans to illustrate more books, soon.
Edited by Aparajita Saxena