The GMBF has over 300 members across the GCC, and the majority of them are in the UAE.
A group of business owners in Dubai are helping employees who have been affected by the Covid crisis in India, giving them food and offering them employment opportunities.
The Gulf Maharashtra Business Forum (GMBF) launched the grassroots initiative in partnership with non-governmental organizations in Maharashtra state in western India, the main target of the group’s efforts.
“A certain number of daily workers who lived from hand to mouth are now deprived of their two meals a day during confinement at home,” explained Prasad Datar, businessman and member of the GMBF executive committee. Small home businesses, street food vendors, and small restaurants and kitchens are also severely affected.
“We are connecting these two hard-hit segments with the help of support on the ground. We pay small kitchens and home food businesses to provide food for daily workers. We also offer daily workers small temporary jobs in these regions, ”added Datar.
The GMBF has over 300 members across the GCC, and the majority of them are in the UAE. He has promised more than 20,000 meals in a few towns in Maharashtra.
“So far our efforts are concentrated in the city of Pune, Chiplun, and now we have extended our efforts to Solapur as well,” said Rahul Tulpule, another member of the group.
In Pune, Datar is the spearhead of the initiative in association with the NGO Annapoorna led by Dr Manisha and Abhijeet Sonavane.
“The couple of doctors have been active in the service of the community during these difficult times. Fresh meals are purchased from housewives and provided to day workers who have lost their jobs, ”Datar said.
In Chiplun, the group works with the NGO Helping Hands, and in Solapur, it has linked up with Dyan Prabodhini.
Tulpule said: “We have considered sending funds and medical aid. However, we have noticed that a lot of people are taking advantage of it, including selling oxygen cylinders and concentrators. This effort ensures that aid goes to those who need it. “
Going into details of the effort, Datar said, “Take, for example, wedding halls that employ hundreds of day workers who know nothing but these specific jobs. Now that the halls are closed, these workers find themselves without work and without food. In many cases, homelessness has also increased. “
With the help of doctors from Annapoorna, the group identified 52 places where homeless people gathered.
“We provide food and medical care specifically for these areas. Moreover, since many are daily wage workers, they are too embarrassed to resort to begging. So we offered them small job opportunities where they clean up parts of the city. This initiative is called Kharatapaltan, ”added Datar.
The group intends to continue the service for two months. “We are looking to help them until the situation normalizes in these cities,” he said.