BY RACHNA GUPTA
Atlanta, GA, April 30, 2020: “Some people want it to happen. Some wish it would happen. Others make it happen” said Michael Jordan. The people behind SprinklingSmiles have been making it happen in a matter of days!
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing crisis in India, Swati Mistry, who works as Operations Manager in OCS Group India Pvt Ltd, an international facilities management company’s Mumbai office, realized that because of the national lockdown, lives of millions of people were severely impacted.
She found that though donations from large organizations were going for supporting hospitals and shantytown dwellers, equally susceptible frontline community helpers like Mumbai’s sanitation workers, police officials, CISF, waste managers, hygiene and security heroes on the streets of the city were not getting adequate assistance.
She had a casual conversation with her friend, Atlanta-based Sudhir Agarwal, who got all geared up to lend his support to her initiative in whatever manner he could. They talked about delivering nutritious, cooked food to these frontline workers so they would have one less thing to worry about.
With the lock-down in effect and citizenry not being allowed to move about unnecessarily, Swati sought the support of her manager Bikram Singh and both reached out to the ACP of Mumbai, who supported the initiative and provided curfew passes and permission for food distribution.
The food for the community heroes was to be prepared in sanitized kitchen by cooks who were to follow all safety protocols under the guidance of Ex-Hotelier Sukumar Shetty at Anjali Services. The initiative was taking shape.
When Manoj Parekh, MD, OCS Group India learnt of the initiative he enthusiastically provided support with vehicles and manpower to help in the operations and logistics. All this was not possible without the help of Mumbai Corporation (BMC) officers Kiran Panchal and Ajay who knew the areas where the need was most acute.
The community helper’s along with SprinklingSmiles’ appeal to the citizenry was: “We Are Out, For You, You Stay In, For Mankind.”
Another human-interest story to relate: through a WhatsApp message, a SprinklingSmiles team member learned that a senior citizen- housebound- couple in Mumbai needed basic raw food material to be delivered, so without wasting any time they got it done. When the couple’s Texas based family member came to know of this, he immediately made a commitment of $3,000 for SprinklingSmiles to carry on the compassionate work! This practice of helping senior citizens has become one major initiative for the team.
SprinklingSmiles has also started packing and delivering bags of uncooked ration of rice, pulses, flour, sugar, salt, and oil. They have distributed more than 500 grocery bags in Mumbai. Rations in each bag feed a family of 3-4 for 10-12 days.
As the initiative took some shape, Sudhir Agarwal was able to reach out to community members in Atlanta. The SprinklingSmiles team in US consists of Ram Shanbhag, Rachna Gupta, Pooja Rastogi and Neetu Singh Chauhan.
As of this report, SprinklingSmiles team has delivered:
- 5000 Cooked food packets to Police and BMC personnel in Mumbai
- 500+ grocery packets to daily wagers/ migrant workers
- 100+ grocery packets to Senior Citizens
- 2000 masks to Police personnel in Mumbai
SprinklingSmiles has received multiple requests from BMC and Mumbai Police regarding contribution for basic protective gears like masks, sanitizers, gloves for frontline workers. The team is working on procuring the same. SprinklingSmiles team has recently received 25,000 masks which are now slated for donation.
If you know someone in Mumbai who is in dire need of groceries or food or if you wish to sprinkle some more smiles, write to SmilesSprinkling@gmail.com and SprinklingSmiles will “Make it happen”.
Also, feel free to contact us in case you want to be a part of this initiative and want to support us in any form.