Humans of COVID-19: Karnataka Citizens Go Extra Mile Amid Lockdown
From fighting fire to getting a pregnant woman medical care, Karnataka’s citizens are setting great examples.
For over a month, thousands of ordinary people – from CEOs of companies to aerospace engineers to army officers to lawyers to students and stay-at-home moms –have been working with the government of Karnataka, to tide over the COVID-19 crisis, which has changed life as we know it.
Dissatisfied with staying home, nearly 6,000 citizens have been volunteering with various government departments, spearheaded by the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR), in various capacities. From doctors assisting in BBMP fever clinics and doing psychiatric e-counselling to manning police checkposts and helping pack and deliver food supplies to the needy.
“These are people who have no authority but are working out of a social and moral duty. Having volunteered, they are morally accountable. They are not the government or the bureaucracy, but are playing an important intermediary role across the state,” said Malavika Avinash, chairperson of the Corona Sainiks Taskforce.
Sonali Singh, a citizen volunteer in Bengaluru, responsible for onboarding new volunteers said people had put their own lives on the backburner to step up in this time of crisis. “They are rendering selfless service and it’s amazing to see so many people wanting to contribute instead of staying home,” she said.
Helping Feed the Transgender Community
Tucked away and ignored in pockets across the state, the transgender community has been one of the most vulnerable groups during the coronavirus lockdown, sending various appeals to the government to include them in relief efforts.
Tarun and Aishwarya, citizen volunteers, realised how neglected the community was when they went to deliver food to 35 trans persons living in Peenya.
“While I and another volunteer reached the location we found out that they had very little ration left from their past earnings and were going to go hungry if food wasn’t given to them at the earliest. Since that day, I have ensured that they receive lunch and dinner every single day. I felt helping a group that is many a time invisible to mainstream relief work is extremely essential,” said Tarun.
Not Leaving Birds & Animals Behind
While a majority of citizen volunteers are ensuring the well-being of all human beings in need, one such volunteer Kiran Kumar is ensuring that birds and animals are not left to their own devices during this period.
From rescuing eagles stuck in trees to feeding stray cows and freeing dogs stuck in traps, Kumar is ensuring they get the help they need.
Kumar, who works with a private company in the city, started volunteering with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) forest cell, making himself available whenever his day job permitted. He has saved more than 3,500 birds, animals, reptiles, and even domestic animals. He gets around five calls regarding this a day.
Citizens Dousing Real Fires
Six ordinary citizens, rose to the occasion when a fire broke out in Bengaluru’s Gunnatha Vihar, located on defence land, in early April. When the fire department was unable to come on time to douse the flames, Sunand Sampath, Shashi Kumar, Shirish, Om Satish, Md Mansoor, and Swamyraj stepped forward.
Their timely intervention to protect the lives of the 500 families living on campus and possible damage to property earned them praise from DGQA (Ministry of Defence) JC Nagar.
Helping Pregnant Mothers in Need
Thirty-three-year-old Uma Rajeshwari has been in the prayers of many an expecting mother during this lockdown. Starting wtih a overdue mother, whom she got to safety and medical care to ensuring a woman who lost her child and was suffering from septic shock got the required medical care.
After coming across a woman, bleeding and in septic shock, Raji, as she is fondly called, was horrified. After pleading with the family members to allow them to take the woman to a clinic, Raji ensured that the woman got treated,
In another instance, while conducting awareness about female hygiene and sanitation, Raji saw a heavily pregnant woman who was several days past her due date. She was in extreme pain, but the expecting mother was unable to find appropriate care. After being rushed to the hospital, the woman’s labour was induced and she soon gave birth to a happy baby.
Going Beyond the Line of Duty
Umesha was deputed on checkpost duty with his local police station and was on his way back to the Gorguntepalya station after delivering supplies to a poor family when he saw a terrible incident.
“There was a heartbreaking incident where a biker was hit by a truck from behind. The man was a medical supplies delivery agent on the way to Nelamangla. Instead of helping him, people around started taking photos and videos. I couldn’t tolerate that and took the help of the police to hail a car passing by and took him to the hospital. Our first priority should be to help, not be mute spectators,” said Umesha K.
Human Supply Chain to Deliver Medicines
A cancer patient in north Karnataka’s Bagalkote was worried after running out of medicines, essential for his treatment. They were not available at the stores around him, and the nearest place they were located was in Dharwad, over 120 kilometres away.
With no means of swift delivery, volunteers, Abhinandan, Pranav, and Sanjukta came up with a plan involving five volunteers along the way, who would hand the parcel to each other. Following this relay with the drugs as the baton, the medicines were finally handed over to the patient’s family at the Bagalkote-Dharwad border.
Donating Life-saving Blood
Mehboob Pasha, a kidney dialysis patient was desperately in need of B- blood, after losing a large quantity of blood while undergoing dialysis. An urgent call for help was sent out to the volunteer network for possible donors to reach the blood bank within four hours.
Two individuals, Sushruta and Sanjay immediately jumped to action and reached the blood bank to donate life-saving blood.
The patient’s son Fazil thanked the volunteers for their timely intervention. Akram, another relative said, “When the doctor said that the patient was very serious, these two gentlemen, Sanjay and Sushruta left everything and reached within four hours. Now the patient is safe and on the road to recovery. This would not have been possible without the help of DIPR.”
Helping Stranded Migrant Labourers
After spotting six youths walking in a group in Bengaluru’s Horamavu on 27 April, a citizen volunteer stopped to inform them of social distancing and the importance of wearing masks. She soon realised that the six men, aged between 18-25 years, had crossed over the border from Trichy in Tamil Nadu and were on their way back home to Jaipur in Rajasthan, on foot. They had been walking for nine days and had barely eaten.
Within an hour, a group of volunteers reached the place, armed with water, snacks, and masks for the exhausted group.
They were immediately taken to a government quarantine centre nearby where they were told to stay till the lockdown is lifted.
Following up on the case, volunteers discovered that they were not getting adequate food at the centre and intervened to ensure the supply of three meals a day. They check on them daily, to ensure that they are receiving the help they need.
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