The impact of COVID-19 so far has been huge. Humanity has been tested. Strength and resolve have been stretched thin. Millions have lost their lives, loved ones are being missed, tons rendered jobless, communities have been subjected to adverse vulnerability and hunger. Yet again, the will to live is ever so strong, as survival is seen in the bond of community.
The Lockdown was a measure put in place to flatten the Covid-19 curve; However, it has created another major problem: hunger. The essence of our lives, really, is the inclusiveness of our communities. The newspaper vendor, the security guard, the ‘akara’ women by the roadside, the road cleaners, the masons, the food vendors, and even the less privileged – all of these people have been adversely affected, especially since their daily incomes have invariably been abruptly cut short, consequently plunging them into extreme hunger.
Inspired to alleviate the sufferings of these vulnerable groups, while at the same time making a difference in the fight against the scourge, employees of the Interswitch Group have rallied together to voluntarily contribute various amounts from their remunerations, raising a total of N75 million in an employee-led initiative. Their company then augmented with the sum of N230 million, bringing the funds raised towards the organization’s COVID-19 response effort to a grand total of N305 million.
Part of this fund was used to set up the Verve Food Bank Initiative through which raw foodstuff were provided for this vulnerable group and the security officers who are working in the frontline to keep lives and property safe, especially in the wake of the recent security threats from hunger-induced riots and protests in some areas.
Since the company may not be able to reach out to everyone within these vulnerable groups, it decided to adopt its immediate community as the major beneficiary of its relief packages. After all, like the old saying goes: “Charity begins From home”.
So, Interswitch, in partnership with the Lagos State Feeding Program (Eti-Osa Local Government Area) and the Young President Organisation (YPO), set up four Verve Food Banks and provided raw material food items for the vulnerable women, children and families, in their immediate community in Eti-Osa Local Government Area, as well as for the families of some security and police officers.
The Verve Food Bank event held on May 1, 2020., at the following four locations: Oko-Awo, being Interswitch’s immediate community where the company’s headquarters is located Oniru, Onikan and the Bar Beach Police Barracks. The Local Government officials, along with the traditional rulers and community leaders helped in identifying the target beneficiaries.
In the Oko-Awo community, the Verve Food Bank catered to the families, artisans and security guards who are keeping lives and property safe within the vicinity. For the Oniru community, the attention was on the less privileged and indigent families within the community. While the Onikan Verve Food Bank catered to the artisans and menial workers within the Onikan axis, the families of the officers at the Bar Beach Police Barracks formed the last group of beneficiaries.
On the symbolic occasion of the commemoration of this year’s Workers Day, Interswitch staff demonstrated a commendable sense of community. They reached out to the “seemingly” excluded groups within their immediate environment, pulling them in to let them know they that they are not alone, assuring them that we are getting through together. The initiative also served as an opportunity to thank the people for staying home to help keep the Covid-19 curve flat, as well as to appreciate the security officers for the risk and sacrifices they are making to ensure the peace and safety of the citizens.
Interswitch Group, along with its employees, has again shown that there is no better time to be our neighbour’s keeper, than now. They have again set a pace, worthy of emulation, and inspired others to extend little acts of kindness to those among us who have little or no means of survival, especially in these trying times.