They are providing groceries, baby food, oxygen cylinders and even ambulance service
The government has enforced an eight-day strict lockdown across the country to contain the spread of Covid-19. To some families, the restrictions are particularly a severe blow to them as they are dependent on daily earnings to meet the basic needs.
Youths in Dhaka and different parts of the country have stepped up to deal with the crisis, reaching out to the affected families during the strict lockdown as they did in 2020. Some of them are working individually, while others in groups or through organizations.
Some of the initiatives taken by the youths include providing cooked food, daily essentials, baby food, while some are raising awareness about health safety rules.
Nafisa Anjum Khan, a private university graduate, has devoted herself to serving the lockdown-affected people in Dhaka and adjacent areas. Since April 14, she has been delivering groceries to the families on a CNG-run auto-rickshaw.
In two days, she distributed food items among 200 families. Many individuals came forward to help her continue the initiative.
Nafisa hoped that the families would be able to survive at least eight to ten days with the groceries she had distributed.
"I am not dubbing it as relief; I am giving it to people as a gift," she added.
Young lawyer Samir Afza is assisting a group of people who lost their jobs, have no food in their houses and cannot stand in queue for relief materials.
Samir took similar initiatives last year with his own finances, but now he is receiving financial support from some of his friends and relatives who live abroad. On the first day of the lockdown, he distributed one week's groceries among 60 families.
Three-time meals would be provided in three orphanages of the capital throughout the Ramadan, he said.
Besides, Samir has arranged 12 oxygen cylinders for families who are not able to bear the cost for treatment of their ailing members.
Chittagong-based non-profit organization Contribution for Bangladesh is working for the slum dwellers through several initiatives. From the first day of the strict lockdown, they set up makeshift markets in different slum areas where food items can be bought at a cheaper price.
"We are providing Tk180 worth groceries at Tk15," said Naima Nimmy, founder and president of the organization.
Nimmy, who graduated two years ago, established the organization during the Covid-19 crisis last year.
She said that the organization had provided financial assistance for a girl named Khaleda Sultana Sheefa last year to help her start a small business and bear her family expenses.
Some senior citizens told the Dhaka Tribune that their children used to send money before the pandemic, but stopped continuing support for a long time.
"Yesterday [Wednesday] some young boys came to my house and gave me a one month's groceries. I pray to the Almighty for them," said an elderly person in Badda who wished not to be named.
His two children, who live in Dhaka with their families, had lost jobs during the Covid crisis last year and were struggling to survive, he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Dhaka University student Tanbir Hasan Shaikat and his team launched an initiative for the mothers of low-income families who need powdered milk to their children. They are also serving ready-made food to the poor, as they did last year.
Shaikat said that they would continue supporting people throughout the Ramadan.
Last year, they had provided three meals for 1,000 people every day for 221 days, he added.
They have also arranged four ambulances for the services of the Covid-19 patients. "As our capacity is limited, sometimes we feel very bad for not being able to help according to the demands of the people," Shaikat said.
Marking the World Humanitarian Day 2020, the United Nations has recognized four Bangladeshi youths, including Shaikat, as "real-life heroes" for their contribution to humanitarian work.
Bidyanondo Foundation’s journey started with an individual fund, but the foundation now receives significant support from many people.
Salman Khan, chief of its Dhaka branch, said that the foundation had been delivering various types of services during the Covid crisis.
"Many small volunteer organizations have worked with us on a larger scale with their efforts and finance. As a result, we are still continuing the services.