Newspapers in their Sunday issues carried in a number of stories concerning food aid for the poor in different parts of the country. In Lalpur of Natore, a telephone call to 333 brought succour for 26 destitute people from the upazila administration under the prime minister's food aid programme. The Ramna zone of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) started a regular feeding programme for the hungry people from Saturday last. Food was distributed among approximately 300 such people comprising floating elders, street children, underprivileged adults and struggling day labourers. The information minister's charity foundation has distributed packets of food items among 600 auto-rickshaw drivers in Rangunia, Chattogram. This charity foundation of his family reportedly provided food aid for 50,000 families last year during the critical days of the pandemic.
There are non-profit organisations like the Bidyanondo Foundation and Khukumoni Foundation which work for education and welfare of the underprivileged children. Both foundations have been carrying onwitha unique feeding programme for such children since their inception in 2013 and 2016 respectively. The young men behind such social work were not rich. They started from scratch ---little savings they could manage when they were students ---but somehowcould come thus far with help from donors. During the first wave of coronavirus last year, they extended their feeding programmes and this time as well they are doing the same.
This unprecedented pandemic has brought the best and the worst out of people here. A few charity organisations should beckon as society's lighthouses when fraudsters are cheating innocent people and the rich and superrich are not coming in aid of the vulnerables of society made even more vulnerable on account of the pandemic. There is not even dearth of generosity but people are disillusioned so much by cheats and tricksters that anyone willing to donate need to be convinced of the genuineness of a charity organisation. The pandemic has, moreover, left some people, who were quite well-off before, almost paupers. Their tragedy is that they cannot ask for charity nor can they find an alternative source of income. Even a large number of teachers of private kindergartens and schools have joined the rank of the jobless and are passing their days in woeful miseries.
A brief lockdown hurts but a prolonged one simply bleeds the economy. This macroeconomic picture receives the focus of the policymakers and most economists. Microeconomic concerns are at best given a short shrift because the issues involved are likely to cause unease. Loss of industrial output and commercial transactions of large companies and medium enterprises may be overcome but the deprivation and income erosion suffered by the poor and vulnerable count in many cases as a difference between life and death. Under the arrangement of the current economic system, the government alone cannot reach out to every needy and vulnerable person. Moreover, its allocation is allegedly misused ---at times grossly ---by public representatives at the local level. In a situation like this, capable people in their personal capacity should takethe responsibility of helping needy families ---no matter if it is a single one--- they know of. In case this is not possible, they can contact charities like Bidyanondo Foundation to contribute to their humanitarian service.