The summer sun in New Delhi, India, was no match for the Lotus Outreach International volunteers as they cooked for food-insecure families in their makeshift kitchen. This tiny workspace was created in response to COVID-19 by the KEF Scholars who volunteer with our partner organization, Lotus Outreach International. In addition to studying, these KEF Scholars have been active volunteers as tutors & mentors for children of day laborers in slum areas through Lotus Outreach International’s tutoring program for almost two years. Upholding this tradition of service, they were the first to jump to action when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Showing the trademark drive and compassion of a KEF Scholar, these students could not sit idly by while COVID-19 lockdowns wreaked havoc on their communities. The volunteers had already been working on community issues such as access to water, hygiene equipment, and securing identity cards for those struggling with illiteracy. Once lockdowns began, several of the young volunteers built a kitchen to prepare ration kits for the families who attend Lotus’s evening classes. Though the project was started with the expectation of being short lived, the kitchen was up and running for 52 days straight.
One of these volunteers was Mamta, a second year KEF Scholar. She helped lead these emergency relief efforts, and can be seen in this picture providing dry goods to a family in need.
The span of this aid extends far beyond what is shown in Mamta’s photo. The volunteers began their relief efforts by identifying the most vulnerable members of their community. After creating their game plan, the team purchased supplies to prepare and deliver freshly cooked meals, as well as dry ration kits, for 142 women, men, and children. The kitchen did not stop there. From April to June, with many long and hot days in between, the volunteers provided 7,842 meals to 75 families who were unable to purchase gas to cook for themselves during lockdown. Even more, 355 people from 55 families received dry rations.
Reaching further in June, Lotus Outreach International teamed up with a local NGO, Sahja Manch. This organization funds meals, but did not have gas for cooking at the time. By partnering with this NGO, Lotus helped ensure that an additional 2,100 meals were served.
We have seen many of our KEF Scholars perform extraordinary acts of service and bravery during these past few months of crisis, and we are so inspired to see our Lotus Outreach International KEF Scholars come together to reach hundreds of people in need.
Stay tuned for more updates on our students in New Delhi and to hear more about our partnership with Lotus Outreach International!