Lady with a lamp

Chhitra Subramanium,
Co Founder Pad Squad, Film Producer

When COVID-19 started in 2020, I was burning from within, the catastrophe that we were witnessing was huge and I couldn't sleep. I felt the need to do whatever I could to alleviate the pain. So I started looking for pockets and people around my area to give bags of rations, medicines.

I was also keen to help frontline caregivers augment human resources and build capacity..." is how Chhitra Subramaniam, a familiar name in the entertainment business in Mumbai, sums up how she and Surya Balakrishnan ( A Film Director) started HOPE - an outreach relief initiative during extremely distressing times today, along with Mesh Foundation.

Sharing their work, challenges and learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic, she says, "HOPE was formally launched on 28th April 2021 in Mumbai and our campaign is simple and penetrative; to reach out to the vulnerable during this COVID 19 times through a few pillars of intervention in these times: Kids Nutrition program, Rations (food), Medicine (non covid), Oxygen, PPE kits for Crematorium workers.

However there are so many areas that need some intervention and if we can do something , we try our best. "Whatever it takes to spread HOPE".

The Kid's Nutrition Program (started on 28th April) provides basic supplementary nutrition to children in fragile communities- Shivaji Nagar (Govandi with 230 kids), Bhagat Singh Nagar (Goregoan with 200 kids), Ambedkar Nagar (Cuffe Parade with 200 kids); providing eggs, milk and bananas and running this for 1 month to start with. Depending on funding, will continue to reach 1500 kids.

HOPE pack of Grains & Love ration kits comprising 5kgs Rice, 5 kgs Wheat flour, 2 kg Dal, 1 kg Sugar, 1 kg Salt, Tea leaves , Chill powder, Haldi powder. 800 kits distributed in less than 5 days and poorest of the poor out of daily wage earnings find this God sent.

Medicines and hospitalization costs for the underprivileged in a manner that they get timely help and recover quickly. In this effort HOPE collaborates with others so that there are sufficient funds to cover costs.

Providing Oxygen, working with Give India & BMCC, installing 3 oxygen concentrators within the first week and a couple of oxygen cylinders to smaller small hospitals in Andheri Area; more in the pipeline.

In addition, Pad Squad a vibrant initiative that Surya & she Co- Founded with others continues with distribution of free sanitary pads during these harsh times.

Chhitra Subramanium's childhood dream had been to start an orphanage for girls. And she has that on her radar while adopting education of orphaned girls in her mother's village over the years. "Clarity comes with purpose and it's about saying 'yes'. It's simple really, to make yourself available to help. People are joining in, coming forward with incredible help and support. With miles to go before I sleep..." she smiles.

SB, 'I started last year and I want to focus only on one cause - that is to do the best I can to help. There is so much to do but such little time and collaborating with Chhitra only means a new idea every single morning, if not more.'

Chhitra can be contacted at:

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