The battle against the Coronavirus is now at its most challenging mode. While frontline workers grapple with the task of seeing to it that every patient gets the healthcare they deserve, with the skyrocketing numbers of cases, it has become a daunting job. Social media steps in to fill in the gaps left by the health infrastructure. Local groups and NGOs have taken it on as their personal mission to make the lives of many much easier during this war by distributing COVID resources. Bingedaily caught up with 4 such groups who are literally and metaphorically angels in disguise.
Covid Care - an app that can help patients looking for resources
In the midst of rising Covid-19 cases, coming together to alleviate the society of this pandemic was the need of the hour. The Covid Care app is the initiative by alumni of Shah and Anchor Kutchhi Engineering College, Chembur.
“The prime vision of Covid Care is to provide authentic, genuine help to the people, thereby contributing to tackling the pandemic. Covid Care majorly focuses on Oxygen, Plasma, Bed, Medication or any aid as requested. We’re all set to provide any help for those in need and have catered to 115+ families across the country in a matter of 8 days and are persistently working to raise the numbers by helping out as much as we possibly can,” the group says.
Taking into consideration an enormous rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in India, this group operated on the ideology that the more they connected to people across the nation, the more they would be able to assist people in need. “With the inception of Covid Care, there’s been a massive surge in the number of requests received. Hence, it’s crucial for us to network with people who are ardently into helping out the ones in need.”
The group is persistent in its efforts to associate with people who share the same vision, which in turn helps them reach a wider, extensive network.
Speaking of the turnout rate, the group says that the response has been nothing short of overwhelming. With 200+ volunteers stringently calling, texting and exploring contacts that can be handy, they have successfully been able to generate a pool of resources that can provide all the necessary assistance a patient requires. “Covid Care app and website has a separate section where you can see a compiled list of genuine resources that have been constantly fulfilling the requests received.”
They go on to describe the working model that includes a collective deployment of requests on social media platforms. “It enables us to reach out to individuals and organisations who are verified, thus allowing us to collect an extensive amount of leads and COVID resources that can provide help.”
A success story:
The group shares the story of a family from South Mumbai. “A family of 5 of which 3 were infected, called us at 4:30 AM asking for a ventilator bed for the father who was admitted at NSCI Worli.”
“They were stressed because the only working people in their family were Covid positive and could not find any help by themselves. We, at Covid Care, contacted all the nearby resources that we thought could provide a ventilator bed, but the situation in Mumbai was such that there wasn’t any bed available at that moment.”
“After continuous follow-ups, we were able to finally procure a ventilator bed at 8:30 AM at Nair Hospital for the father. Getting a ventilator seemed to be a herculean task but we kept calm and managed to find a resource collectively not just to help out the father but also provide medical aid to the other members of their family. It was heart rendering to see their relief.”
You can download the app here
HelpNow - a 24/7 ambulance service for COVID patients
HelpNow is a 24x7 ambulance service started by a group of young students - Aditya Makkar (21), Shikhar Agrawal (21) and Venkatesh Amrutwar (24) - that brought down the average arrival time of an ambulance from 50 minutes to 20 minutes.
“We started in May 2019 with just 12 ambulances on the streets of Mumbai and grew into a network of 350 plus vehicles within a year, providing services at subsidised rates and even offering free rides to the needy. In less than two years, we even expanded our services to Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune. Currently, we are rapidly expanding across the country.”
As hospitals across the country have been witnessing a shortage of beds, oxygen supply, and have been turning away even critically ill COVID patients for lack of space, the shortage of ambulances is another pressing matter on hand. “Exasperatingly long arrival times are leading to lack of timely treatment and many preventable deaths. To combat this crisis, it is imperative that our helpline 88222 88222 and services become available to as many people as possible. Our mission to save lives has only gained more momentum!”
The group recounts how in the last few days, they have been flooded with calls not just for ambulances but even medicines, COVID resources and special requests to extend their services in every city of the country. “This is our mission. We want to make our services available, free of cost, across the country, by 2024. There was one particular instance during the lockdown last year when we received almost 2,000 calls in a single day. It was overwhelming attending to so many calls!”
Ask them about a success story of theirs and they say - Every life saved is a success story for us!
Agas Grub Hub - free meals to the less fortunate
The migrant crisis that shook the city last year when the first phase of the nationwide lockdown was announced cannot be forgotten. Lives were lost. People walked barefoot for miles on end. Hunger took over and there was a dearth of resources.
Parvez Aga a resident of Bandra had the infrastructure and chefs at his disposal on account of the restaurant that he owns. He decided to contribute these services to those who were in need of them and started the Cooked Food Program. In a span of 100 days Parvez and his team catered to beggars, people who live in hutments, slums, migrant labourers, watchmen etc.
They delivered a whopping 40,000 meals and 1 lakh mineral water bottles in this span.
“This time the situation is a bit different,” says Parvez as he tells of how the liquidity in the market is drying up. “The first time around, people were much more generous in contributing resources and cash for the cause. This time we have observed, the contribution is not much.”
However, his spirit undeterred, Parvez has changed gears this time and is focusing on the very needy and unfortunate. “Our program is on albeit on a smaller scale, giving preference instead to helping with provisions for entire families.” Elaborating on this, Parvez highlights that the provisions given by the political parties do not suffice for more than a week. “The aim of our program is instead of 500 families, to focus on 100 families but give them provisions to last them a month.”
Parvez along with his family and personal contacts are making this program possible. The target is 100 families.
“People are in need during these trying times. They look forward to ample rations that will help them sustain instead of tokenism that usually is seen. I have seen and experienced the situation on ground. It is heart-wrenching. We often have people crying when provided with these basic rations. Kids are hungry as parents have lost their meagre source of income. Even 2 square meals a day for them is a blessing. Their gratitude is fulfilling.”
If you wish to contribute to the cause, you can reach out to Parvez on 9820017390
COVID Warriors NE - connecting plasma donors
A volunteer group connecting the plasma donors to the patients who are in dire need of it, the COVID Warriors NE started with a single motive. “As the cases in the state of Assam grew and we were faced with many queries about medicines and hospital beds we tried keeping and updating such data too. Our focus right now is Guwahati which has the highest surge in cases lately in Assam.”
“The main problem we are facing is the lack of plasma donors. Due to the Government's lack of propagation, people's general interest and the less number of cases throughout the last few months finding suitable plasma donors has been tough. The most amount of outreach is thus required now.”
“The number of cases is surging every single day but the number of plasma donors isn’t satisfactory. We have been scouring the internet and social media to connect resources to those in need of them, and verifying these before we go further.”
“Our plea to those who have recovered from COVID and fit the criteria for plasma donation is - PLEASE donate!! You can save a life by simply donating blood.”