Help continues, second year in a row

With e-mail helpline, actor and chef Jeevan Kumar mobilising relief work for corona patients

The nearly half an hour conversation is interrupted by calls that come in requesting help — for food and oxygen cylinder refills. Jeevan Kumar, Hyderabad-based actor and chef who had helped with relief work in summer 2020 when the pandemic first struck India, is back in action, with support from friends and well wishers.

In April last week, as COVID-19 cases continued to rise, he announced on Instagram (@jeevankumar.a) that he is ready to do his bit to help. Co-owner and chef at Charcoal BBQ, Madhapur, Jeevan and his friends helped provide meals for more than 2.5 lakh people in 2020, when lockdown had unsettled migrant labour and daily wage earners. As lockdown restrictions eased, essentials were also distributed to the needy.

With the learnings from 2020, and knowing that the second wave is bringing in further challenges, Jeevan decided to streamline the method of relief work, with the help of a four-member team.

A dedicated e-mail address ([email protected]) was created and requests for help are vetted by Jeevan’s sister Deepika: “Anyone who needs help or knows someone who needs help can e-mail us. We verify the patient’s name, address and medical reports and provide free food for those who require it. Deepika keeps tabs on the emails and tries to respond within 20 to 30 minutes,” says Jeevan.

Before film shootings were stalled owing to the second wave, Jeevan acted in a few Telugu films including Pushpa and Virata Parvam and says his earnings are now used for the relief work. “I worked in a cruise line before I turned an actor. So I have friends in other countries, who also pitch in with financial help,” he adds.

Jeevan’s team has tied up with a few kitchens. He says: “As a chef, I am particular about hygiene. I visited these kitchens before partnering with them.”

He intends to continue providing free food for COVID-19 affected people as long as he can. Requests also keep pouring in for locating hospital beds and refilling oxygen cylinders. Keeping tabs on government dashboards and through his contacts, he directs people to hospitals where beds are available.

Oxygen challenge

Jeevan admits that helping with oxygen is proving to be a challenge: “With the help of my friend Abhinav Chitneni of RGA Industrial and Specialty Gases, I was able to help a few people. I am worried that I will end up getting 10 times more requests than I can fulfil and the guilt of being unable to help will give me sleepless nights.”

On what prompted him to help those in distress, Jeevan reflects, “I lost my mother at a young age and had my share of struggles. I know the value of food. With difficulty, I did a hotel management course. I became a transformed person after I worked in director Tharun Bhascker’s films. He, his wife Lata and mother Geetha are my backbone. They motivate me to keep doing the good work and offer their continuous support.”

Jeevan has acted in films such as Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, Falaknuma Das, Saaho and Meeku Maathrame Cheptha, among other projects.

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