NILACHALA PARIDA

NILACHALA PARIDA: A National level Mountaineer & a Taxi driver who surmounted obstacles and became Odisha’s Covid Hero

Inteviews Magazine

“ Today our country needs us like never before. By taking action and helping others in this time of crisis, we could give our lives some significance and meaning”

                                                                                                                                                  – Nilachal Parida.

 

The Global Hues received the opportunity to speak with Nilachala Parida, a 26-year-old taxi driver from Bhubaneswar who set up a makeshift shaft to sell vegetables and offered free home deliveries for the elderly and covid patients as a nationwide lockdown was announced in March 2020.

One of the most daunting tasks in the pandemic is stepping out to buy groceries at the risk of getting infected. The long queues at supermarkets make it especially difficult for the senior citizens living by themselves. The intent behind his initiative was to ensure that people were staying at home and not exposing themselves to the virus by going outside to buy essentials. The major driving force was his worry for the well-being of old covid patients living alone who could not access delivery services due to the lockdown.

 

NILACHALA PARIDA

GIVING BACK TO THE SOCIETY :

Initially, as the lockdown was imposed, Nilachala, like many others, lost his source of income. He received no consolation whatsoever from his car owner who simply asked him not to return to work any longer. Nilachala admits being depressed for a few days until the mountaineer spirit within him stirred him to put up a fight. We are told that up till now he has climbed more than eight peaks and frequented various national adventure camps. Through one of these camps, he had won the opportunity to climb Mount Elbrus in Russia in August, which got delayed due to the lockdown. Once the lockdown was announced in March 2020, everything changed overnight. A sense of fear, panic and worry encompassed the city, and Parida could no more sit idle seeing his people suffer. The idea behind setting up a fruit & vegetable shop, Parida said, was to ensure the delivery of these basic food items to the people helplessly locked inside their homes due to sickness or old age. The elderly & covid patients were entirely incapable of fending for themselves. Nilachala tells us that initially, he started delivering vegetables to places under 7-8kms distance from his shop. But once the word spread about his services through Facebook and other social media platforms, he started getting numerous calls from places beyond his immediate reach. This is when his friends from the Go India Adventure club joined hands with him to help out with the huge number of deliveries. As the word spread further, volunteers came forward and plunged into the social service. Parida tells us that he also sanitizes the homes of covid patients free of cost. He is able to fund his sanitizing services through the money he makes from selling vegetables door to door. “I and my friends had divided the tasks in order to serve as many people as possible. Some would be in charge of handling calls while others would be responsible for making scheduled or emergency deliveries” Parida added.

NILACHALA PARIDA

RECOGNITION & HONORS :

“My motivation levels improved with the kind of recognition and appreciation I received over social media” Parida exclaims. People would visit him to click pictures and share his journey on Facebook until one day the news reached RCB business head Simran Duggal who called him up and congratulated him for his tireless and selfless service to the nation.

Chris Morris NILACHALA PARIDA
Picture Credits: Twitter

It was an unusual Monday for Nilachala when people started tagging his Twitter account to a post shared by Chris Morris ( who played for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2020)  wearing a jersey with Nilachala’s name stamped onto it. The caption on the post shared by Chris Morris read : 

 “Nilachal Parida set up a vegetable shack during the lockdown and offered free delivery to senior citizens. Saluting Nilachal’s spirit, I’ll be wearing a jersey dedicated to him and all such challengers!.” It was like a dream come true for Parida who felt overwhelmed and grateful with all the honors and good wishes coming his way. Parida’s selfless service to society has also been recognized by Himachal Pradesh’s APG Shimla University that has granted him admission to a law course on a scholarship.

PARIDA’S MESSAGE TO YOUTH :

Parida’s work has continued during the second wave of the pandemic as well. As the city went into a lockdown for the second time, he started getting calls from people asking him to help their parents who were stuck alone in the city due to the lockdown. 

When asked if there’s a message he would like to convey to the people, he said he would want to urge the youth to take action regarding the problems being faced by their community during this pandemic rather than sitting idle at home. Moreover, he believes that today this country needs our help like never before and one could use this crisis as an opportunity to give meaning to their life.

Parida’s selfless service to society has also been recognized by Himachal Pradesh’s APG Shimla University that has granted him admission to a law course on a scholarship.

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