Cultural activists of Sylhet have been providing food to the people who are helpless due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As the month of Ramadan has approached to an end, the touch of Eid-ul-Fitr festivity has impacted their humanitarian work.
They have initiated to distribute special food items for celebrating Eid which they call "food of love" to the poor and destitute people of Sylhet.
They have added products like vermicelli, milk, sugar and flour to the food items to spread the festive atmosphere of Eid to these helpless people. Clothes have also been collected and delivered to the people as Eid gifts.
"We are now giving special food products like vermicelli, sugar, milk, flour with regular items like rice, potato, lentil etc. to people on the occasion of Eid. We will deliver the special food items to 300 families," said Rajat Kanti Gupta, general secretary of Sammilito Natya Parishad, Sylhet.
He said,"The stage which gave me the identity of an artist also gave me the courage to do humanely activities. This great work will satisfy me until the last day of my life."
Sammilito Natya Parishad, Sylhet started collecting food and financial assistance on March 28 to help people who were severely affected by Covid-19. They started distributing food items on April 1.
On April 3, they created a hotline number 01729200984 which is active every day from 12 pm to 3 pm. Any people living in Sylhet and its suburban areas can ask for food assistance by calling and sending messages to the number.
Food is being delivered to them after 3 pm till midnight by four vehicles and 10 motorbikes. The organisers call this transport activity Koler Gari (on-call vehicles) as they run with food assistance as soon as they receive any call for help.
People who want to donate money to this initiative can send their amount to the bkash number 01711469715 (personal).
On April 14, Sammilito Sanskritik Jote, Sylhet joined the venture. Since then the activists of theatre and other cultural organisations have been continuing the programme jointly.
So far, they have distributed food essentials to about 7,000 families. Each food packet includes five kg of rice, two kg of potatoes, one kg of onions, lentils, and chickpeas and one litre of soybean oil.
Around 60 cultural activists are working for buying, packaging and delivering the food items every day. They are continuing their whole activities from Rikabibazar's Kobi Nazrul Auditorium.
The district administration permitted them to use the auditorium without charging any rent. They also got assistance from foreign minister Dr Ak Abdul Momen, Sylhet City Corporation mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury and others.
People from all professions and levels including senior administrative officials, businessmen, and politicians are donating cash to the fund. Some are donating food. Children are donating the money they deposited in the clay piggy banks.
President of Sammilito Natya Parishad, Sylhet Mishfaq Ahmed Chowdhury Mishu said, "We are grateful to them, who have extended their hand of cooperation to our humanitarian work from home and abroad. We must overcome this disaster situation with the joint efforts of all."
"We will give 200 packets of breakfast in the morning of Eid day to them who provided emergency service to us including doctors, nurses, police, electrical workers, cleaners."
"We distributed cooked food to the low- income people in Pahela Baishakh and iftar items to emergency service providers on the first day of Ramadan," he added.
Financial affairs secretary of the organisation Indrani Sen said, "Cultural activists of Sylhet set an example to face the crisis caused by coronavirus. The fanatic groups are not beside the mass people, who think that theatre workers are indulgent."
General Secretary of Sammilito Sangskritik Jote, Sylhet Goutom Chokroborty said, "Humanity is in danger due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Cultural activists cannot stay at home in this kind of situation- cultural and theatre fighters of Sylhet proved that many times."
"Sammilito Sangskritik Jote and Sammilito Natya Parishad, Sylhet are providing the 'food of love' to the people through 'on-call vehicle'. I salute all the fighters, who are involved in these humane activities," he added.