“It was equally wonderful to get Rs 500 donation as it was to get a single donation of Rs 50,000″

Sangitha Krishnamurthi started a fundraiser to help a hospital in Bangalore to get funds for PPEs and ventilators. The lockdown has affected her professionally, but she is doing her bit

Prerna Shah
| Updated: May 2nd, 2020

Bangalore-based Sangitha Krishnamurthi is the co-founder of The Teachers Collective that works with schools, teachers and children inclusively. She is a wife and mother, who mostly tries to find a balance between being of use socially and making a livelihood at the same time. After the lockdown was announced, she set up many fundraisers to help those in need and talks about the need for collective, affirmative action during the Coronavirus crisis. Here’s her story, in her own words.

When the Janata Curfew was announced, we got a sense that a lockdown was coming; that it was imminent. We knew then that we wanted to do something concrete. Something that made a difference on the ground level.

Having worked in the NGO sector previously, I knew that if a lockdown came into place, it would affect a lot of people and in unprecedented ways. I also had to be careful. I have elderly in-laws living nearby and I also have my parents. We have two children. I had to work in a manner in which I did not bring home the virus to either set of parents or to our children.

I decided to start by being of some help to the St John’s Medical College Hospital in Bangalore. We have doctors in our extended family and we knew of the great work that the St John’s Hospital does in terms of providing affordable medical care for everyone. I had a feeling that once the coronavirus crisis deepened, the hospital will need more resources; it already had a waiting list of patients, and the need for services was only going to increase.

We had quite a challenge in procuring a large quantity of bags to deliver these dry rations

So, we asked them what they needed? They needed funding for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and ventilators. They had a tie-up with the Karnataka government for a certain number of beds that would be devoted to the Covid patients and both – the procurement of quality PPE and setting up ventilators was an expensive affair.

We put a fundraiser together. My husband, who works as a professor with IIM-Bangalore, shared it with his friends and students. In under 24 hours, we had collected close to Rs 4.5 lakh. We saw scope for more and moved up the goal. In 48 hours, we were close to Rs 10 lakh. Soon, we got Rs 20 lakh. A lot of things came together and made this campaign successful.

If I were to summarise it, I would say that it was the excellent reputation of the hospital and our own personal standing that made the fundraiser a success. Also, the fact that this fundraiser came into play at a time when it was still early days, helped. Once we reached Rs 20 lakh, the concept of every bit counts truly came home to me. It was wonderful to get that single donation of Rs 50,000 and it was equally wonderful to get that Rs 500. 

I realised that there were so many other areas where we could be of help. I foster Indie dogs. So, via that network, I came to know of an incident and how it had sparked a larger initiative. A friend used to provide meals to the stray dogs in her area. During the lockdown, she came home one day in tears because hungry children came over and ate the food that was meant for the dogs. She decided to do something from that moment itself. Once home, she cooked a large portion and went back to the children to give them a proper meal. From that day, she started cooking for the children apart from feeding the stray dogs.

We were able to coordinate with a supplier who had the rations, a car and he could deliver the rations to my friend directly

In order to contribute to this, we sent a few messages on our internal group of friends and family and in less than a couple of days, we could get funds amounting to about Rs 85-90,000. We were able to coordinate with a supplier who took care of the needs of the IIM hostel and he had the rations, and a car and he could deliver the rations to my friend directly.

I know it sounds like a small issue, but we had quite a challenge in procuring a large quantity of bags to deliver these dry rations. Dry rations and cooked food were needed by a lot of people. Say, for example, the relatives of patients who came to the two government hospitals in the area. These people accompanied their sick family member to the hospital. They came from all over, even nearby villages, and were now stuck. They did not have a kitchen to cook at, and so it was no use giving them dry rations. We had to provide healthy, ready-to-eat meals.

There are lots of things that need to be done – I am also a part of a fundraiser that is set up to help the transgender community during this pandemic.

There are personal challenges. On some days, I feel tired and anxious. It was our fourth year of The Teachers Collective. We were ramping up; we had some good contracts. Then Covid-19 happened. It’s been a 100 per cent of revenue loss with this crisis.

But, most of it pales away when I see people in need. When we moved back from the US to India, I was ready to kiss the ground of the country we call home. I know that there are a lot of areas where we need to work on in our country. I know we can do a lot more here than anywhere else. In a similar sense, the corona crisis continues to carry forward that feeling. There is a lot more to be done. Whatever we can do, we must.

If you would like to contribute to the fundraisers Sangitha supports, here are the details: Fundraiser to support the transgender community in Karnataka.

Fundraiser to help buy ventilators and medical supplies for Covid-19 ward at St John’s NAHS.

Prerna Shah has worked as a journalist, content and communications professional and she blogs here.