Karuna 2020: Using GitHub Actions in the COVID-19 response efforts

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GitHub Actions gives you the power to automate your workflow. Connect with the tools you know and love. Have more freedom to innovate and be creative. Deploy to any cloud, build containers, automate messages, and lots more. Around the world, people are even using Actions for social good, like helping the COVID-19 response efforts. That’s exactly what Karuna is doing.

Whilst we’ve been sharing lots of stories from amazing developers like Daniel, we wanted to give you something special. This week we have a heartfelt interview with Anand Chowdhary. Anand isn’t using GitHub Actions. He and his team have been using GitHub Actions to help alleviate the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out their story for some inspirational reading.

Anand Chowdhary gives us insight into how they are using GitHub Actions.

Karuna 2020 – helping those affected by COVID-19

Before we jump into Actions, we need to understand what Anand and his team have built. During the pandemic, Anand moved from Netherlands back to his family in India. He soon realised the disproportionate impact COVID was having on the country:

[There’s a] disproportionate impact of the lockdown on migrant workers and daily wage earners. With no work, these laborers were having trouble feeding their families. For me, I could comfortably stay at home for months, but this was not true for millions of Indians.

Anand wanted to do something about it. So he and his team founded Karuna 2020. It’s open sourced on GitHub and is an initiative to help those most affected by COVID:

We built a “dream team” of startups, corporates, and nonprofits, and founded Karuna 2020… We started collecting donations and built a “dry ration kit” to sustain a family for a month, and partnered with nonprofits to manufacture masks to distribute among healthcare, police, and other front-line workers.

This would be a tremendous amount of work. Luckily, Anand and the team use GitHub Actions to help make this whole process smoother.

GitHub Actions for Karuna 2020

From the start, Anand wanted Karuna to be open source. He wanted to ensure everything they were doing was “completely open and transparent”. GitHub Actions has been a central part of the Karuna project:

Using GitHub Actions, we developed several open-sourced workflows that automate tasks like building our website, hosting our open data APIs, and even our open source guidelines for front-line workers.

Actions allow the team to help more people quicker. Anand gives a great example of how GitHub Actions has helped reduce manual labour and make better use of volunteer hours:

For every dry ration kit we distributed, we took a photo of the recipient and shared it on our website to be completely transparent to our donors. In order to protect the beneficiaries’ privacy, we wanted to make sure we blur their faces before uploading their photo. For the first few days, this was a manual process, taking up several volunteer hours.

Photos are automatically blurred out. This saves hundreds of volunteer hours. Check out more images on Karuna’s Instagram.

By using GitHub Actions, this work was able to be automated. A script was built by one of the volunteers. This python script uses faceblur and then uploads the new photo to distribution cards on Airtable. The Airtable then populates the website.

Actions for all your needs

Using a similar method above, the Karuna team have automated several processes using GitHub Actions. There’s also an Action that generates a tax invoice and automatically sends it to the recipient. It even uses GitHub Action’s scheduling feature to have this run every few hours.

The team at Karuna says GitHub Actions has helped them immensely. Actions has allowed them to make the biggest impact possible.

Anand and the team want to share this impact with others. Head over to Karuna’s website for lots of information and resources. They have detailed guides for all their processes. This includes donor lifecycle, onboarding volunteers, designing creatives, and posting on social media.

Making information available through Actions

Whilst Karuna is doing an amazing job with the COVID-19 relief effort in India, they don’t want to stop there. Karuna’s main goal is to build open source processes, guides, tools, and APIs for nonprofits. They want to provide this all free of charge. As Anand says, making this available will help NFPs better manage resources:

[these resources help] make [NFP’s] operations more efficient and let them focus on what they do best.

Anand’s favourite thing about GitHub Actions has been offering this information for free. According to Anand, Actions is what is helping Karuna make a real impact on the world:

All the tools we’re using are open source. They work with GitHub Actions without requiring a self-hosted instance. This has been the most important feature for us. We’re able to design complex processes and automating important tasks, without requiring dedicated servers. GitHub Actions offers a powerful way not only to test and deploy code, but to create real impact in the world.

Get involved

What a story! Not only is GitHub Actions able to help automate workflow, it helps people make a bigger impact when it matters.

We hope you enjoyed our interview with Anand Chowdhary. As he said, GitHub Actions is here to help us make our processes better and allow us to focus on the things we do best. If you want to get started with GitHub Actions, head on over to our Learning Lab course to learn the basics.

If you liked Anand’s story, make sure you read up on more inspirational stories from Action Heroes like Jeremy, Adam, and other amazing developers. You can also check out some of the other open source projects dedicated to helping the COVID-19 relief effort.