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Kashmir’s Secret Samaritans: The ‘Super Girl’ With a Bag of Food and Medicine

Kashmir’s Secret Samaritans: The ‘Super Girl’ With a Bag of Food and Medicine

As an undisguised commoner on streets, a Kashmiri girl is keeping the community spirit alive in a pandemic with her kind acts.

Novel coronavirus had just returned with vengeance and enforced another lockdown in Kashmir when a young mother admitted in Srinagar’s Gousia Hospital was getting anxious about her newborn. Shortage of baby food and clothing in a ‘ghost city’, where the desperate-for-living traders were passed as ‘violators’, had further added to her anxiety.

In that grim hour, a girl from Dalgate showed up as her saviour.

Ever since pandemic lockdown paralysed the Valley, Mehak Peer, 27, has been walking down the desolated lanes lined by shut shops with a bag stuffed with medicine and food for needy.

To begin with, the girl was an enigma, for she frequented streets when everyone was sitting home for the fear of the virus. But on her part, Mehak knew that her ‘odd outing’ was her response to the silent yet simmering community crisis during the mandatory social distancing era.

The mother’s plea from Gousia Hospital was one such distress call for this Dalgate girl.

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As soon as Mehak got a word about it, she started contacting her sources for help. “But nobody could get things done,” she recalls.

Hope on the street seemed distant. But somehow the girl gathered stuff in her bag, sidestepped the street restrictions and visited the hospital to comfort the new and agonized mother.

Mehak’s silent social service that day was the part of her welfare initiative taken back in 2017.

Growing up watching underprivileged families struggling for basic needs had forced a change in her mind. Recently, as the same unfortunate people suffered in the new Kashmir lockdown phase, the girl chose hostile streets than the comfort of her living room for their sake.

Mehak, 27, has been volunteering since 2017 to help the underprivileged families. / Maroof Riyaz for The Mountain Ink

Mehak’s mobile keeps buzzing with distress calls. They convey the dearth and demand for medicines and other essentials.

“I used to think a lot about poor families during normal days,” Mehak, a sportswoman turned businesswoman, says.

But when the question—How’re those families making living, and in what conditions they are in during this lockdown?—made her restless, Mehak decided to become a helping hand.

Soon as her close circle spread a word about her lockdown welfare works, she started getting calls from many distraught families.

One day, amid Covid curbs, she received a call from a lady, telling her, “I’ve ration stock, but we’re running short of medicines.”

The girl promptly delivered the medicine stock at the distressed lady’s doorsteps.

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“I received many calls from needy widows during the present phase of pandemic,” Mehak says. “I also got a call from a dialysis patient whom I referred to Athrout, the well-known NGO that took care of her ailing condition.”

The young woman’s welfare works are fuelled by a strong belief that one should sympathize with those who’re in desperate need. “Besides,” she says, “I always remind myself: What if, tomorrow, I will be in their shoes?”

With this strong conviction, secret Samaritans like Mehak are keeping the community spirit alive in the lockdown-laden Kashmiri society today.

But while acting as societal support, Mehak makes it sure to follow protocol. “I wear the mask and carry sanitizer with me during field trips,” she says. “There’s no question of getting carried away in these lethal times.”

Every so often, the young businesswoman also contributes from her own pocket besides channelizing her contacts to generate resources for the deprived class of the society.

“My entire focus earlier was medicine,” Mehak says, “but that doesn’t mean other needs aren’t my priority.”

Being mindful of the underprivileged girls’ needs, she’s also taking care of their personal hygiene.

“I’ve provided sanitary pads to many of them during this lockdown,” she says. “I believe, as Kashmiris, we need to be vigilant and mindful of things. If we won’t help each other in a crisis situation, then who else will do it for us?”

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However, despite doing great work, the girl loves to maintain a low profile and work independently.

Mehak providing a wheelchair to the specially-abled child. / Maroof Riyaz for The Mountain Ink

Of late, she provided a wheelchair to one specially-abled child and supplied diabetes medicine to another needy family.

“Diabetes is one of the common diseases in the Valley,” Mehak says, “so I bought three-month medicine stock for a family.”

Besides medicine, the girl has also distributed around 50 food kits among the needy families during the pandemic.

But unlike others, Mehak is not comfortable in documenting her work. “I’m doing this for the sake of Allah,” she says. “So there’s no question of flaunting my work. Besides, one has to be mindful of these needy families’ feelings. Just imagine, how do you feel if someone captures your helplessness?”

While striking a perfect balance between her study and work, Mehak believes youth need to shoulder the responsibility of their community in these extraordinary times. “We need to know our role to make it easy for all of us,” she says.

“One family’s welfare can’t be a healthy societal sign. We must work for the collective good in order to tackle our frequently-imposed precarious situation.”

This belief has already made her talk of the town, as today Mehak is getting calls from some faraway places of Kashmir for aid assistance.

“Lately, I got calls from Tangmarg,” she says. “It surprised me, but then I realized the power of word-to-word dissemination, which can be only helpful for society.”

But despite fighting from the front in the pandemic, Mehak carries an uneasy head when steeping out on streets as Samaritan.

“I go out every day with this fear that I may return with the virus,” she says. “But God has protected me and will protect those who’re risking their lives for the sake of our anxious brethren.”


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