#BhopalRiders founder Varun Namdev
#BhopalRiders founder Varun Namdev

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): A group of cyclists have come together to help Covid patients by supplying essential goods at their houses.

The group #BhopalRiders, set up on May 1, has helped 50 Covid patients and their families by supplying medicines, grocery, fruits and vegetables so far. The group’s service is free. The patients are required to pay for goods they get delivered through the group members to the concerned shop digitally.

The group members are from diverse backgrounds and do different things for a living. What unites them is a passion for bicycling and a desire to help the needy. They are photographers, company secretaries, mountaineers, businessmen and students. They are in the age group of 18-45 years.

Group founder Varun Namdev, 30, said he felt the need for such a service after one of his friends who lived alone contracted the disease and was home quarantined. “He could not go out to buy essential goods like milk, bread and medicines,” said Namdev, who is a professional photographer.

Namdev has used social media platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook to convey message that he is willing to supply essential goods to houses of quarantined patients or isolated suspected patients. “I am a cycling enthusiast and covering 50-100 km in a day on a bicycle is no big deal for me,” he says.

Goods delivered at doorstep
Goods delivered at doorstep

His cyclist friends joined him gradually. “I began about 12 days back and now there are 12 of us, living in different areas of the city,” he says.

They take precautions like wearing double masks, carrying sanitiser. “We place goods at the doorstep of person concerned. Payments are made digitally, which ensures transparency,” says Namdev.

Those helped include an elderly person who lives with his son. The son got infected and the father was too old to move out. “I also arranged tiffin service for elderly parents of one of my friends who lives in Nagpur,” says Namdev.

They prefer to work in the mornings and evenings though they do not refuse a request even during the day if it is an emergency. As they live in different areas of the city, the requests are forwarded to the volunteer whose residence is closest to the place of the person seeking help.

At times, they do get requests for hospital beds, oxygen and Remvidiser injections. “We tell the callers politely that we cannot help them directly. If they want, we give them contact numbers of people who provide such services,” Namdev says.

“One day, I got a call from the US. The caller was a gentleman whose younger brother was quarantined in a hotel in the city and needed help,” says Namdev.

Another member of the group Yogendra Singh Rajput who works in a private firm says that he provides services on alternate days when he is not required to go to office. “If a little effort on my part can be of help to someone, why shouldn’t I do it,” he said.

Rajput, 26, says that if the amount involved is small, he makes cash payment to the sellers and then gets the money reimbursed through Google Pay or any other digital payment service.

“We use bicycles. This way, while serving people, we can also workout. We will continue this service till lockdown is lifted,” he says.

According to 45-year-old mountaineer Bhagwan Singh, a bicycle is better than an automobile because it can easily cross barricades on roads. He lifts the bicycle, crosses the barricade and pedals ahead. “Cycling keeps me fit, boosts my immunity and I also save money, which I would have otherwise spent on fuel,” Singh adds.

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