Community support groups are cropping up worldwide to tackle the havoc this pandemic has wrought. One such group, begun by Ottawa resident Jannat Mahbub, is now making huge strides both locally and internationally. The teams are working day and night throughout Canada, Brazil, America, and also key cities of Pakistan with just one goal in mind.
“You might ask, how do we come up with a solution to this pandemic? The only way forward is primary focus on mental health and a general widespread awareness.”
During our talk, Jannat explained how her idea emerged as a “chain” of strategic, no-contact response. For one, the homeless and elderly needed special assistance. Unwilling to venture into supermarkets lest they expose themselves to the virus, they needed people who would purchase their groceries and essential medicines for them.
The process was meant to be simple but ingenious: beginning with the recruitment of recently unemployed Uber drivers for goods transport. The process is as follows: a volunteer would go to the store, pick up items for those in need, and leave the trolley for the driver to pick up. The driver would drop the items to the care packaging centre – once again with zero contact.
“The first step was awareness, the second was convincing people to stay at home. The third was how to stay connected to them – and that we would accomplish through our numerous talks and discussions.”
What they’re hoping to do in Pakistan particularly is collaborate with artists and conduct live jam sessions on social media. Hopefully, this should be attraction enough for young people and music lovers to join in on the community’s work.
Pakistan is close to my heart, Jannat says. That is where she now wants to direct her focus. She is coordinating with the country head for Pakistan, Sikander Bizenjo, based in Karachi in the south. He says:
“Since we are active in countries like Canada and the UK, who are at the frontline of successfully fighting this virus, it is a brilliant opportunity for us here in Karachi and the rest of Pakistan to learn from them. We also want to work on the areas that are impactful and meaningful in the local context using local volunteers.”
They are planning to conduct a panel talk on Friday 7 pm Pakistan time, with a behavioural psychologist based in the UK. They hope this will meaningfully contribute to the mental health narrative in Pakistan, while also uniting people under a single platform. However, Jannat admits she and the team may have a long way to go in Pakistan. Language barriers will need to be overcome and strong networks formed before an equally far-reaching impact is made.
“The essence of COVID 19 Support International is that it is funded by all of us, by the people. There is no profit or personal gain. If this pandemic ends, there will no longer be any need for this community. And for that we will be eternally thankful.”
Have a look at the work they’re doing by clicking the link below: https://www.facebook.com/covid19internationalsupportgroup/
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