It’s almost 1:00 am. You have just put your pet dog to sleep. As you get ready for bed you realize that your dog has suddenly got up and has started barking frantically. You go out to check. You see that your dog has started vomiting profusely. Your dog’s barks hush as you lift it and it starts whimpering. You get worried because you don’t know what to do. The tension makes you sweat. You quickly grab your phone. You try calling some emergency numbers of dog NGOs that you had saved. Nobody picks up. You google dog clinics near you to get numbers of veterinarians but that line is also dead. All you need is some form of help. Some ‘Maddat’.
Started by students and alumni of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, with the aim of creating Mumbai’s largest verified aid resource directory, to increase awareness and access to the city’s NGOs, government services and pro-bono professionals across areas of relief and social work, ‘Maddat’ or ‘help’ is an initiative aimed to put people in contact with the right people and bring recognition to hardworking individuals that sustain the ‘city of dreams.’
Maddat provides each person with the correct verified information on a wide range of services, including Medical Aid, Mental Health, LGBTQIA+ Rights, Children and Women, Legal Aid, Senior Services, and Animal and Stray Relief.
“I really hate the feeling that when someone needs help for something like blood donation, they have to make appeals via Instagram or WhatsApp, and they put out the message without really knowing the fact whether or not they would get a response, so I really wanted to cut that”, said Shreenandini Mukhopadhyay, founder and organization coordinator, Maddat. “I don’t think anyone should not be able to access help for the lack of information. We try to bring the citizen and the service one step closer.” She added that she would see a lot of Instagram stories and highlights about helping birds or migrant workers and felt that it all had to be kept in one consolidated place.
The thing that makes Maddat unique, according to her, is the fact that they’re inclusive to as many sections of the society as possible, from old age to the LGBTQIA+ community. The focus on all 3 types of service aid providers, namely, non-governmental organisations, government services, and pro bono professionals, which according to Mukhopadhyay are often scattered, is what makes Maddat the ‘one-stop platform’ for verified authentic information.
Mukhopadhyay believes that Maddat needs to operate not only as a resource directory but also in actual facilitation of help. According to her, “Maddat acts as the middle man between you and the organisation.”
As the city reaches a new peak of COVID-19 cases every day, stepping into Unlock 2.0 has not been a problem for Maddat as they work remotely. “Being remote while working has helped us immensely to cater to COVID special problems like medical and logistical supplies for doctors, ambulances, helplines numbers, and the like”, said Mukhopadhyay.
Maddat has also included problems that are specifically related to the pandemic and the effects of the lockdown. Help for domestic violence, mental health issues, and the migrant crises, caused due to the lockdown, is also available on the platform.
With the advancement of technology in today’s day and age, Mukhopadhyay feels that the power of the internet is very strong in collaborating with NGOs, government organisations, and pro-bono officials. According to her, “The use of the internet and other online features help increase access to information. Maddat can be reached on our website or Instagram handle @maddatmumbai anytime.”
In the future, Maddat aims to work on the collaborative spirit within the city and are in works of creating a helpline to assist Mumbaikars with any and every problem that they have.