The pandemic has affected the most vulnerable the hardest but there are people who have come forward to lend them a helping hand them with their sincere efforts. In this article, Urban Update elaborates on the works of these unsung heroes and also got in touch with some of these heroes to know what keeps them going. This series of articles will continue in next month to feature more unsung heroes of our society
As the world fights an unprecedented health crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, its ravaging effect has taken a toll on the world economy, individuals, businesses, and the education sector. It is so widespread that it has affected all spheres of public and private life and very likely it will increase poverty and inequality at global levels. But during these times there are millions of health care, sanitation workers and police officials who are on the frontline, working tirelesslyin preventing COVID-19 from spreading further.
Similar to the works of these frontline warriors, there are a number of unsung heroes in India and around the world who have been working dedicatedly for the society and for humanity. These unsung heroes are those who are rising above their own health and safety concerns and fighting to bring lives back to normal. These are people who are restoring humanity’s faith by coming up with novel ideas.
Distribution of Oxygen cylinders
The coronavirus pandemic has brought to light the shortcomings of the healthcare system in India as reports of shortage of oxygen cylinders and ventilators starting pouring in. Medical establishments across the country started running short on ventilator support-systems for COVID positive patients in serious condition. Meanwhile, the prices of oxygen cylinders also shot up due to shortage of supply and a sudden surge in their demand. During such times,Shahnawaz Shaikh, a resident of Malad, Mumbai, sold his SUV to buy oxygen cylinders to help those in need.
Shaikh,while talking to Urban Update, said that since the lockdown begun, he has been constantly helping peopleby providing them ration, sanitizing slums, buildings and stalls. He also helped migrant laborers reach their homeswho were otherwise unable to do so due to lockdown restrictions imposed by the government.He added thatseeing so many people die due to unavailability of oxygen cylinders, he decided to help and ensure that those who need life support systems to be treated for COVID must not be left without help.The duo,who run an NGO called Unity and Deputy Foundation along with 15 other people, decided to do whatever they can to help them and initiallybought 20 oxygen cylindersfor those in need and the word quickly spread.
Shahnawaz said he spent all his savings on the social work he was doing during lockdown and that to meet the increasing demand of oxygen cylinders,they had to look for other sources to raise funds. He then decided to sell his SUV and use the money for the selfless cause.Before selling his SUV, he had used it as a free ambulance to ferry patients to hospitals. He went on to add that so far, his teamhas helped more than 300 people by providing them with oxygen cylinders on time.
After sharingthe information about free oxygen cylinders on social media, Shahnawazsaidthey have been getting 25 to 30 requests on a daily basis. He added in order to separate the ones who needed the cylinders more, the team required those seeking help to get a doctor’s recommendation for the oxygen cylinder and to be able to pick up the oxygen cylinder from the NGO on their own. However, in exceptional cases, like when the family is quarantined, a team of volunteers in protective gear is sent to the location to deliver the oxygen cylinder to the patient in need. The delivery team does not enter the house of the patient in order to avoid direct contact and strictly maintain social distancing at all time.
Sanitization work on streets, langar to drivers, feeds for animals
Due to COVID-19, not only humans but animals have also been affected. Since people were forced to stay indoors, animals on the street had no one to feed them. Seeing their plight, Zorawar Singh, a resident of Rani Bagh, Delhi, decided to help both people and animals by sanitizing streets, providing food to truckers and to animals.
Singh, in conversation with Urban Update,said that he has been working for this noble cause with Teg Sikh Martial Arts Academy,which is also involved in social work. He said, “We saw people were suffering because of corona as their businesses and offices had shut down. Some were informed that their salary will be deducted in order to cover losses during the lockdown, while some others could not make money due to shutdown of businesses.As a result, many wereunable to feed their families. So we decided to divide our teams and collect contributions from members and also asked children to be a part of the initiative by giving their savings or asking their parents to contribute the 10th part of their income for providing food to the needy or doing sanitation works in different societies.” He went on to add that all the duties were divided, contributions were gathered, and 25 sanitization machines were bought for sanitizing streets. The team further went on to sanitize police stations, hospitals, chemist and ration shops, societies, religious places and other public spaces in North and West Delhi.
Singh added that they distributed their phone number everywhere so that people who need food can contact them directly. Due to the efforts of the entire team, they were able to provide food to 200 people in one go. Moreover, with the help of nearly 30 families, they were able to feed close to 400 street animals every evening. The Academy helped in reaching out to nearly 2,000 truckers daily. They also served workers residing in the Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, who were facing severe shortage of food supplies during the lockdown.
These are just a few of the examples of unsung heroes, who worked selflessly to help those in need survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Their actions and initiatives helped save the lives of hundreds of people who were either unable to afford the COVID-19 treatment or to procure food for