Lockdown Heroes: 70-Year-Old On A Mission To Distribute Masks In His Village
Narayanan, an old hand in charity work, is now taking on the coronavirus by distributing face masks to around 5,000 households in the Ernakulam district in Kerala
Sreeman Narayanan is known for his charitable services in Kerala. He has distributed 10,000 earthen vessels for offering water to birds last year, while also giving away 25,000 copies of Mahatma Gandhi's The Story of My Experiments with Truth among the residents of his village Muppathadam, in Kerala’s Ernakulam district. Two years ago, he had given away 25,000 cloth bags to discourage the use of polythene. In 2018, Narayanan, a Gandhian, also distributed 50,000 saplings worth Rs 15 lakh for free among the residents of Ernakulam district.
Now, he is on a mission to defeat the coronavirus by distributing face masks. "I plan to distribute masks among 5,000 households. The population is estimated at 25,000. We will give two masks per person. We are calling this project 'COVID-19 prathirodha yajna' (Anti-COVID-19 offering). It is like a religious duty," Narayanan tells Reader's Digest.
Narayanan says that many cultural and social organizations have come forward to help him in this effort. He hopes to meet his target within 10 days. "Around 15 people are working round the clock already. We want everyone to be safe, and they should also make others feel safe," says the 70-year-old.
Photo courtesy Sreeman Narayanan
Narayanan also runs a small restaurant called Dwaraka in his village. It is closed for table-service, but poor, needy people can still enter and walk out with food. Dwaraka has also been serving as a reading room for almost 20 years, where patrons can enjoy Malayali and English newspapers and periodicals.
"The goal of my charity work is that people and the environment should benefit from whatever I do, and it should be for the long term. But since the coronavirus is affecting us so adversely, I had to jump in," Narayanan says. These days, Narayanan is pushing himself extra hard to complete his objective in the scheduled time. "We have distributed around 5,000 already. Another 45,000 to go," he says.