In TN, Two Auto Drivers Serve COVID-19 Patients Despite All Odds
Labelling their vehicles ‘COVID Help Auto,’ the two charge minimal fare from patients and their attendants.
Two autorickshaw drivers from Tamil Nadu's Tiruchi, P Karthi and S Manikandan, have undertaken the task of conveying needy passengers to and from the Tiruchi Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital amid the pandemic.
According to a report by The Hindu, the autorickshaw drivers have been assisting in the transportation of patients and their attendants who are seeking treatment at COVID care centres, searching for hospital beds, or those who have been discharged.
Labelling their vehicles "COVID Help Auto," the two friends charge only a minimal fare from the patients and the attendants that they assist with transportation. The patients are asked to pay according to what they can afford.
“We do not do this for profit. We need some money to sustain our families but other than that, we are looking to help in our own way.”Manikandan to The Hindu
Having begun this service last week, the duo perseveres in its altruistic endeavour despite limitations. Karthi, debt-ridden, continues to serve others even as his selfless mission has led to the re-possession of his autorickshaw by the vehicle owner. He has now rented another vehicle to help patients with transportation.
Manikandan, on the other hand, lost his wife to coronavirus-induced complications last year. She had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer when she contracted COVID-19. Unable to afford an ambulance, Manikandan, himself battling a rare disease, had to carry his wife from Tiruchi to Madurai in his own vehicle, in order to avail treatment for her illness. Six months after she passed away, he initiated this conveyance service to help other patients with similar difficulties.
Karthi's wife and children are fretful of his health as he ferries COVID-positive patients. Karthi, however, has strong faith in god.
The two friends take all precautions – the passengers who are carried in these vehicles are provided hand sanitisers, and are asked not to touch anything, Manikandan told The New Indian Express.
Their work, however, is often hindered by a variety of factors.
“There is an autorickshaw stand right outside the government hospital. These men chase us away and charge the patients exorbitant fares. We have to take patients while trying to keep them off our backs,” Karthi told The Hindu.
The duo does not have proper vehicle passes for their service and so are also often pulled over by the traffic police.
(With inputs from The Hindu and New Indian Express)
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