The Coronavirus pandemic has led a wave of kindness across the world where communities and individuals are making efforts to help who need them more than them. Random acts of kindness and online community support are what contribute to ‘caremongering’ movement. It is solidarity and mutual help turned into concrete community action as per one definition. As part of this, Whatsapp, Facebook and other social media groups have emerged to offer help to those who are at a bigger risk or are aged and vulnerable with health complications. Idea of caremongering is to be the opposite of fearmongering.
A lady in an apartment complex in Gurgaon has offered to make meals for those elderly folks who are living here alone while their children are settled abroad. One person has offered those above 65 years of age, all help to procure their medicines in times of restricted movements and social distancing. This is gaining momentum across India.
In Bangalore, a young marketing professional, Mahita Nagaraj, has started India’s first caremongering group. She organises medicines and other essentials for senior citizens, an age group which is considered extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Called Caremongers India, the group calls for volunteers to help somebody who needs assistance.
“Know somebody that can offer assistance? Perhaps you can shop for an elderly member in your community. Or perhaps you have extra face masks that you can distribute. Whatever the need, whatever you can offer, here is where we rally together for each other. Let’s stop spreading fear – let’s spread love instead!”
The community works in a way that volunteers announce if they are headed to a grocer or a chemist and seek any needs, and those in need seek the group’s help to procure their essentials too. What is the nature of assistance? The group in India for example notes, “it could be a grocery store run, medical supplies, pet food, cash withdrawal, veggies, bill payments.”
The purpose of the group is to be of assistance to someone who requires it. Some of the caremongering groups are locality-centric within a city’s suburb. In these groups, members announce information that can be useful for others. For example, is Walmart in Rockford run out of toilet paper (so no one wastes time going there) or has Medstop in Gurgaon got specific timings to open to supply meds (so all know about it.)
BBC notes caremongering as a movement. “As it’s all driven by social media, the altruism is arranged online and the hashtags provide a permanent record of all the good happening in different communities.” It’s a viral movement started in Canada as a community response to the virus spread.
Caremongering is not just about helping people for their medical needs for example, it could also include spiritual, mental enrichment in times of crisis. Online music gigs, one on one sessions to connect with people who are lonely, concerts through digital channels, and other ways. Sonam Upadhayay, a music teacher who runs a school for children to learn, is now holding free concerts for children through a youtube channel to keep their moods upbeat.
Caremongering, a concept that’s increasing gaining connection around the world, “can also entail sharing special ways to enjoy long stays at home, where there will be time for some spirituality and reflection. Given some of my passions, I would like to contribute to this effort right now, even if in a small way, by suggesting online musical and art performances.” A report by Brookings Institute explains this with some fine examples.
This viral trend, can help reverse the negativity related to the virus spread with stories and support of warmth across the world and remind us all once again that there is nothing as wonderful as making human connections. Without physical contact this time. Or at least six feet apart.