Express News Service
While the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated all rungs of society, there are some demographics and communities more at risk than others, with fewer people to look out for them than the rest of us. While they may be ignored by authorities, individuals and organisations have stepped up to hold up the most downtrodden among us.
As the second wave of COVID-19 hit, the Lalit Hotel group and Keshav Suri Foundation (KSF) started a series of relief efforts to help out. Food and water distribution centres were set up outside leading hospitals across the Capital as well as other cities in the country where The Lalit has a presence.
The foundation has also been delivering provisions for crematorium workers across cremation grounds in various cities. “Our country has been struck with one of the biggest crises of our time. The time has come for us all to be socially responsible and stand up for the nation. My foundation is committed to provide care and mental health support to the LG BTQIA+ community, acid attack survivors, and other people with disabilities,” says hotelier Keshav Suri, who founded the KSF.
“Through The Lalit, we are providing on ground support to the afflicted and hope to continue with our relief work to ensure the country emerges stronger and safer soon,” Suri added.
The foundation has also been delivering freshly cooked meals to families and individuals suffering from COVID-19 in various cities across Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Goa, Jaipur, Udaipur, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Khajuraho.
This facility has especially been made available for the LGBTQIA+ community, acid attack survivors, and people with disabilities. Anyone who wishes to sign up for this program can register themselves online.
Being well aware of the repercussions the pandemic and lockdown has on people’s mental health and to ensure the well-being of the community, the foundation is also offering free of cost online mental health counselling services for the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Ensuring good mental health for the LGBTQIA+ communities has been at the core of Keshav Suri Foundation’s work. We have certified counsellors dealing in mental health issues on board,” elaborates Suri.
“Since the pandemic has had adverse effect on the mental health of queer folk – they being pushed back into closets with homophobic families or into isolation – we have been running full slots,” he added.
Suri says these counsellors include psychologist Rishi Talwar who did his Masters in clinical psychology from the University of Pune, and trained at Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (VIMHANS), New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Lameeya is a counseling psychologist, queer affirmative therapist and a narrative practitioner.
“To ensure that the focus of our activities does not drift away from the transgender community, which also happens to be worst affected by the pandemic, the foundation is working in sync with several trans NGOs across the country and is making regular donations in terms of rations, masks, toiletries and other essentials,” shares Suri.
The foundation has also supported underprivileged children on the outskirts of Kolkata and people with disabilities through Action for Ability Development and Action (AADI) in New Delhi. “Our food distribution drives have supported about 25,000 people and regularly free mental health counselling has been provided to about 500-600 queer folks,” he concludes.