Quarantined Student-Youth Network is aiding the cyclone-hit and Covid patients across West Bengal
Two lockdowns and two storms. The Quarantined Student-Youth Network (QSYN) has weathered them all, relentlessly distributing cooked meals, ration kits, tarpaulins and basic healthcare to those bearing the twin brunt of Covid and cyclone across West Bengal.
In May-end, QSYN held a three-day fundraising concert called Global Solidarity Weekend where 95 artistes from 14 countries took part. The group collected around Rs 8 lakh.
The concert line-up featured Bollywood names like filmmakers Anurag Basu and Shoojit Sircar, and music composer Shantanu Moitra.
“We depend on crowdfunding and our fundraising event last month gathered relief for those affected by Cyclone Yaas,” said Suddhasatwa GuhaRoy, a PhD student of Philosophy at the University of Manchester and a member of QSYN’s transcontinental network.
What Quarantined Student-Youth Network is about:
They are a youth-led social service network formed in March 2020 right after the first nationwide lockdown.
Debojit Kumar Thakur, a PhD scholar in History at University of Trier, Germany, and Manmatha Roy, a PhD scholar at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, conceived QSYN with help from a few other scholars and students.
It began as an initiative to help migrant workers in New Delhi and West Bengal during the Covid lockdown-led exodus last year, for which the group raised around Rs 11 lakh.
The wrath of Amphan forced them to change track soon after and the group focused on aiding those affected and left homeless by the cyclone.
Ever since, students, research scholars and alumni from different colleges and universities in India and abroad have joined in. QSYN is now a 600-strong volunteer network.
Reaching out with relief:
The group has reached out to 9,105 families across the districts of South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas, East Midnapore and Kolkata with tarpaulin to help repair their houses.
“We have distributed ration kits and dry fruits in the Sunderbans, and set up community kitchens in various places,” said Sayan Banerjee, QSYN volunteer and third-year student of Electrical Engineering at Jadavpur University.
Another volunteer, Jadavpur University alumnus Nadia Imam, said they were responding to the second wave of Covid and Cyclone Yaas in equal measure, not just with appeals for funds but also by spreading the word about the ground realities in vast tracts of rural Bengal. “Our community kitchens have provided food to almost 4,70,000 people, and reached out with ration kits to 34,000 families to meet weekly needs in the aftermath of last year’s Cyclone Amphan,” Nadia added.
“In the rural areas, one group of people is in constant fear of getting infected by the Covid virus. The other group is quite casual about the virus and roams around freely. To address these problems, we are working as volunteers to provide them with the necessities,” said founder member Manmatha.
QSYN is conducting Covid awareness programmes across the state, distributing masks, producing sanitisers and handing them out. It has also developed rural isolation centres for Covid-positive people who have no place to quarantine themselves. A pre-hospital care has been set up in Thakurpukur to support patients in the absence of a hospital bed.
Support for school-goers:
To help students who have lost access to education in rural areas because of the digital divide, QSYN started the initiative Prithibir Pathshala in July 2020. The network set up 45 schools run by students pursuing higher education, with contributors like teachers and graduates who are currently at home.
In Kolkata, QSYN has connected with schools to start safe homes on their premises. St. Paul’s Mission School has installed five beds for Covid care. Shramajibi Swasthya Udyog, an organisation of doctors and health workers, is providing doctors to treat Covid-positive patients there, while QYSN is providing the school with medical equipment, 24-hour health workers and volunteers.
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