Manjinder “James” Kumar, Founder/President of the Filipino Indian Commerce and Welfare Society Inc. (FICWSI), has strengthened his food relief operations as the lockdown continues due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Kumar learned about hundreds of stranded construction workers in Parañaque. Trapped in the confines of the construction site, with insufficient food, and, above all, the constant worrying for their respective families’ situation in the province, makes the plight of these workers more distressing.
After meeting with some representatives of the stranded workers, Kumar quickly established the “filindihelpline kitchen.” Everyday, all throughout the lockdown, dinner food packs are prepared in the filindihelpline kitchen and delivered to the constructions sites benefitting o ver 200 workers. This effort is dubbed as “Helpline for the Hungry.”
“I cried when Mr. Kumar talked to us and promised to deliver dinner everyday until the end of the lockdown. I thought it wasn’t true. But the next day, dinner food packs started arriving, not missing a day.
Somebody responded to our calls for help. It is such a relief that unburdens our difficulties here. We send our many thanks to Mr. Kumar and to the Police,” narrated in Tagalog by a worker who requested not to be named.
This relief response is in collaboration with PCol. Robin King
Sarmiento, COP, Parañaque City Police, in line with PNP’s “Adopt-A-Family” program. FICWSI’s filindihelpline carries “Together For A Cause” as slogan.
Kumar believes in collaborations among donors and other organizations for better capacity to extend help.
Two collaborative relief operations were recently conducted, as response to distress calls, with the Malasakit Movement of Asec. Celine Pialago, also the spokesperson of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). Last May 6, Pialago and Kumar distributed over 500 food relief packs to families in Barangay Tonsuya, Malabon City.
On May 15, 2020, filindihelpline and the Malasakit Movement toured and distributed over 1,100 food relief packs as a response to distressed calls from breadwinners who have been unable to work and earn during the lockdown.
The joint relief operation started in Antipolo City, helping over 700 jeepney drivers. The second stop was for the stranded workers in a construction site in Tanay, Rizal. Then the team proceeded to Taytay, Rizal to give help to over 250 displaced residents. Next stop was for the stranded families in Silverstreak Trucking Compound in Caloocan City. The giving of relief packs to stranded Muslim construction workers in Baclaran, who, for days, had been eating nothing but rice sprinkled with salt, capped the day’s operation.
“It is an honor for me and the Malasakit Movement to collaborate with FICWSI. “We will always be happy to have FICWSI and their President, James Kumar, as partners in helping people, whether in the midst of the threat of COVID-19 and afterwards. We look forward to working with them again in other projects when the pandemic has eased, as there will always be opportunities to help people whatever the situation,”Piolago said.
“As the lockdown continues, so is the loss of income of breadwinners, ergo the need for food assistance rising up. Food to survive becomes the primary concern of every family, now mostly in distress. They call out for help. With the generosity of our donors and, at times, through collaborations with other organizations, we are able to respond to fill in the need for food,” Kumar said.
The food relief operations of Msgr. Gerry Santos, the very charismatic Parish Priest of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Poblacion, Makati City, also caught Kumar’s attention. Last May 1, filindihelpline donated 100 sacks of rice to support the Parish Priest’s outreach program.
Collectively, Kumar’s own contributions, donations from the Indian community, Korean and Filipino donors, enables FICWSI’s filindihelpline to respond to distressed calls for help. Thousands of relief food packages (sacks of rice and canned goods) are being sent not just to different cities in Metro Manila, but even to provinces, reaching as far as Baguio, Butuan and Cagayan Valley.
Through these continuing efforts to help, Kumar is living up to the phrase coined for him by a friend, “ang Indian na hindi nang-iindyan sa bayanihan.”
For more on FICWSI and its outreach program filindihelpline, visit www.facebook.com/FICWSI/.
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