Moved by the plight of the poor and hungry during the lockdown, two teenage sisters step out every day onto the streets of Cuttack with packets of cooked food for the needy. Every evening Bijaylaxmi Maharana and her sister Bidyalaxmi Maharana distribute food packets to the poor people on the streets of Dargha Bazaar area of Cuttack.
“There are so many people facing big problems due to this lockdown. They need our support and we wanted to help them. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is helping many people but there are so many who are not getting government help. We are pitching in by distributing food to such people,” says Bijayalaxmi, an undergraduate student.
“We have been serving food to 400-450 people daily. So far, we have distributed food to around 5000 people,” adds younger sister Bidyalaxmi.
Many people want to help the poor but are afraid to move around because of the lockdown. The Maharana sisters decided to become the bridge between the good samaritans and the people in need. They collect food from people in their neighbourhood and bring them to the disadvantaged families on the street.
“There are so many people who want to help but they can’t move out because of lockdown. They want someone to take the charge and we decided to become that medium. We don’t take any money from anybody. We collect vegetables from vendors, food items, like rotis, from families in our neighbourhood. Then we make the food packets with rice, dal, roti, and tomato chutney to distribute,” says Bijaylaxmi.
Around seventy families from their community in the CDA locality of the city have extended their support to the two girls. The Police Commissionerate of Cuttack has also recognised the effort of the girls and helps them by facilitating the movement and distribution of food packets during the lockdown.
Their own family’s hardships have not deterred the two sisters from continuing their selfless service. Their father, Bijay Maharana, a welder, has also been without a job since the lockdown began. Though the family faces a tough time, the parents are supporting the effort of their daughters.
This is not the first time that the sisters are out on the streets to help the poor. They had helmed a similar initiative last year when Cyclone Fani had hit coastal Odisha.