New Delhi, May 23— The Covid-19 pandemic has caused large-scale deaths and devastations across the world including in India. The second wave of the pandemic has brought unprecedented pain to thousands of families in the country as hospitals in towns and cities were stretched to their limits. In this situation, a number of civic groups and NGOs and volunteer support groups from across religious lines have risen to the occasion.
They are doing relief work on the ground across communities round the clock. Several gurudwaras, mosques and temples have turned their prayer halls into Covid facilities and relief centres. They are also helping people in getting hospital beds, ICUs and oxygen cylinders.
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This pandemic has brought out the best in the civic society. Working selflessly almost round the clock, these civic groups and NGOs have been relentlessly doing relief work on the ground across communities.
Aman Banka, law student and volunteer, says: “In the first week of April we started to realise that the system has collapsed and need to pitch in.”
Shivam Singh, General Secretary, Student Union, Allahabad University, says: “We began distributing 600-700 food packets everyday. At night, all the volunteers go to Prayagraj railway station, bus stand etc to sanitise these spots.”
Gurudwaras, mosques and temples have overnight turned their prayer halls into COVID facilities and relief centres. Volunteer groups are collating information regarding the availability of hospital beds, ICUs, oxygen cylinders. After verifying these leads, they pass them on to those who need it because time is of utmost importance.
Aman Banka says: “We have made a network with people in all hospitals. We remain in contact with the nodal officer. We ask the nodal officer for confirmation if there is a bed available, for how much time it is available and the patient will reach in a certain time.”
“You cannot sleep at night. You feel if you sleep for four-five hours and during that period the messages you could miss and someone could need urgent help,” says he.
Working on the frontline comes at a personal cost – that of their mental health.
Hiyavi Sehgal, hospital owner and make-up artist, says: “I got a call from a junior from school, both her parents had tested positive. She did not have any oxygen leads. She was so afraid she would lose both her parents in the same night. We did everything we can. After saving her parents by giving them oxygen cylinders, I got a call that her mom did not survive covid. And that was one of the bad days because I did everything I could to save her parents.”
“Grief and death is a feeling very close to me right now. I recently lost my father about 45 days back. I really want to help more people because I don’t want them to go through the same pain of losing a loved one,” she says.
Patients and their kin have formed new bonds with these covid heroes.
Saraswati Rao, covid survivor, says: “I was quite critical at one point with my oxygen levels at 62-65. This group really helped me and came in to save my life at 2:30 am. Five of them came to provide us oxygen and other resources. My oxygen level is above 90 now and I have requested these kind souls to give this cylinder to someone who needs it more than me and save their life. I am truly grateful to them.”
If it is a solace, this dreadful time has given rise to an unnamed bond among strangers – call it humanity, altruism, empathy – but it’s helping many of us stay afloat.
Abu Sufiyan, engineer and social activist, says: “We have just got a lead. We have got an oxygen cylinder and managed to arrange a flow meter. We are trying to save as many lives as possible. We are going to deliver it to Kalkaji, a locality in South Delhi. They have already lost a dear one to Covid and another family member is critical. We are just trying to save as many lives as we can since these patients are unable to hold a bed in a hospital.”
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive,” Dalai Lama XIV had once said.