Wearing gloves, and masks, a group of 15 volunteers gathered around each other, next to a pile of groceries in a large room in the eastern district of Karachi, the commercial capital of the country.
Among them was Sunil Harsi, one of the many Hindu volunteers who had joined hands with various aid agencies to provide rations, and sanitation products to low-income people amid a raging coronavirus outbreak that had placed the South Asian nuclear nation in lockdown which paralyzes.
The economic slowdown that hit, a direct result of the global COVID-19 outbreak, has especially struck nearly 25% of the country’s more than 200 million people, who live below the poverty line.
The country has reported a total of 58 deaths because the number of corona virus cases exceeded 4,070 on Wednesday.
Harsi, 32, a member of the city council for Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s main religious party, has actively participated in relief efforts carried out by the Al-Khidmat Foundation’s charity wing in the eastern district of Karachi for more than a month.
“I come here every day at noon to attend this meeting to cancel the plans for that day. One day we collected and packed the relief items donated by benefactors and distributed them the next day,” Harsi told Anadolu Agency.
He and his colleagues have been assigned to operate in two slums in the city of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, a middle-income group.
For the distribution of relief items, they mostly use motorbikes or small vehicles to pass through narrow streets in slums.
“We are not gathering people on the street to distribute rations to observe social distance. We are giving rations at the door,” Harsi said, adding, “I was born and raised in this area. Who needs and who does not, I know well “Button.
Adnan Sadiq, a young Christian volunteer, who is also part of the group, regards his involvement in the operation as pride.
“I am proud to be a part of this [relief campaign]. In this way, I am donating something to the community, and my own community too, “Sadiq, 22, who joined the relief activity two weeks ago, told Anadolu Agency.
He praised his Muslim friends for bringing it.
“I feel proud because I am not a person who seeks help but I help others. It is all because of my Muslim friends whose selfless efforts for the masses who need inspired me to join them,” he said.
About a dozen Christian and Hindu volunteers from the area, he said, worked with different charities.
Seema Maheshwari, a human rights activist who was also involved in the distribution of rations among people in need in various parts of Karachi, thanked the Muslim community for helping with its efforts.
“I started my efforts in collaboration with my family and some friends with limited resources. But soon, my Muslim friends and benefactors joined hands with us,” Maheshwari, a Hindu by religion, told Anadolu Agency.
“I am truly grateful to my Muslim brothers and sisters who have trusted my efforts, and given us rations, and other important items for the poor masses,” he went on to say, adding that several other Muslim benefactors have assured him of their support .
So far, Maheshwari has distributed rations among 250 families in various parts of the city.
“We distribute rations among Hindus, Christians and even Muslims in need. This is not a matter of religion, race or community. It’s all about humanity,” he said.
The small Sikh community in the country also donated its share to provide assistance to low-income people, who were devastated by the economic crisis, a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Gurdwara Parbandhak Sikband Committee of Pakistan, an organization that handles religious affairs in the Sikh community in Pakistan, has given a number of gurdwara – places of worship – as isolation cells for patients suspected of having corona virus.
In addition, according to Charanjeet Singh, a community leader, rations and cooked food are distributed among people in need regardless of their religious affiliations, at gurdwaras in Karachi, Peshawar, Nanakana Sahib – the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of their religion – and other district.
Haris and Sadiq also acted as a liaison between their foundation and their respective communities.
“I was also appointed as the person in charge of distribution of rations [by Al-Khidmat Foundation] among Hindus who are in need because I know my community more than anyone else, “said Harsi.
“I personally handed rations to around 150 Hindu families at their doorstep at my place,” he added.
Likewise, Sadiq was assigned to collect data and provide rations to Christian families in need in the area of operation.
Hindus and Christians make up 4% and 3% of Pakistan’s majority Muslim population, while the number of Sikhs in Pakistan is estimated to be between 30,000-40,000.
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