DU’s Stephanians lend a helping hand to non-teaching college staff amid pandemic

Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, many households have faced a financial crisis. When a similar situation was faced by the non-teaching staff of Delhi University’s St. Stephen’s College, a group of students rose to the occasion to lend them a helping hand. “They’ve helped and supported us, and we felt if it was in our power to do anything for them, we should,” says Neha Jacob, a second year student of BSc (Hons) Mathematics.

Describing how the initiative came into being, Jacob adds, “We were aware of the financial difficulties faced by the non-teaching staff on campus. The pandemic, and the lockdown that ensued, ate into their savings. Hence we spoke to the partners of our staff members, and floated the idea of raising funds for them by selling hand stitched masks made by them.”

Students of second and third year from the college are involved in this initiative, to help facilitate an additional source of income for the family members of their college’s non-teaching staff. Currently, three women are stitching these masks, and one individual is appointed to deliver them across Delhi, after orders are placed online.

Providing income and even dignity of labour, to those involved in making masks, this project has shone a ray of hope to quite a few. Laxmi Devi, one of the women who is stitching the masks, says, “My husband is employed as a washerman in the college campus. During the initial months of the pandemic, we managed. But of late, it’s been hard to make ends meet. Ek din college ke bachchon ka phone aya aur unhone pucha ki kya apko madad ki zarurat hai. Jaise hi unhe pata chala ki hume sach me paison ki pareshani ho rahi hai, they arranged for cloth and asked me to start stitching masks. Before my marriage, I used to teach people how to stitch clothes, so I did have some experience in stitching. Best is that the students are helping us in selling these masks online, and this in turn is has helped us feed our two kids.”

This team of youngsters has also donated around 166 masks till now, to those in need. Shubham Belwal, a final year student of BSc (Hons) Mathematics, says, “There are two aspects to this project. Firstly, the team sells masks on the basis of an order placed beforehand, and we are providing delivery in not only Delhi but across India now. Secondly, we are also engaging in pledge donations, wherein people can donate money for masks that are then distributed to members of the non-teaching staff and their families on campus, as well as others who need them. Each mask costs ₹35 on order, and if the purchase is intended for donation, then we charge ₹30 per mask.”

Author tweets @bhagat_mallika

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