A group of volunteers in Cairo, one of the most densely-populated cities in the world, have set up Facebook groups to serve as an emergency food operation, delivering meals to help those quarantined make it through tough times. This multi-faceted initiative aims to mitigate the sufferings of people who need support while easing the pressures facing the government during the pandemic.
The groups’ moderators have created several teams that cook and deliver food, as well as provide healthcare supplies to the most vulnerable.
The pages quickly became popular among those self-isolating at home across Greater Cairo. The moderators, in coordination with the volunteers, match up those in need with the nearest volunteers.
“Anyone is at risk of contracting any disease,” Rasha, one of the many volunteers who responded to the campaign, told Majalla. “If we don’t lend a hand to those infected with the virus, one day we may face the same situation,” she said enthusiastically.
She noted that all the volunteers follow health and safety guidance, using appropriate measures to ensure food deliveries are being made safely.
Rasha recalls an incident involving a pregnant lady whose husband was abroad and didn’t know anyone nearby that could help. Her husband reached out to the group and several volunteers quickly came forward to offer their assistance.
She noted that several young people had developed a low-cost gas cylinder regulator for those in urgent need of oxygen concentrators to treat coronavirus at home.
Ahmad Talaat, 30, said he was motivated to volunteer to help those infected after he had faced a difficult situation.
“My cousin and my brother-in-law were infected with COVID-19 and urgently needed oxygen. I quickly searched for help and thankfully found people to help me install oxygen cylinders to my relatives,” he told Majalla.
After this situation, he said, he decided to help others in similar circumstances by delivering meals to them. “It is a duty to help people who are in distress. The patients order meal through an app on the group, and we contact him via phone and deliver food to their home,” he said.
He reiterated that he adheres to the safety measures set by the Ministry of Health, such as wearing facemask and using hand sanitizer.
Volunteers preparing meals rely on donations of essentials such vegetables, fruits, sugar and oil.
Talaat noted that many meals are provided for free and others at a low price of around 2 or 3 USD dollars.
He expressed that he has gained sense of gratification from giving his time to people who need it and that his religious faith motivates his volunteering.
Several volunteers spoke to me condition of anonymity.
One volunteer explained that the initiative is a coordinated effort with volunteers located in different tasked with to assessing the urgent needs to of the community. This information is then relayed to their teams to ensure that the right help is provided.
Notably, she also lamented the increasing needs of patients and the shortage of resources.
A pharmacist I spoke to told me that he in working alongside his colleagues to provide medicine such as Panadol and antibiotics to poorer people using money that has been donated to the campaign.