From providing free isolation spaces to food, medicine and oxygen, the groups lend a hand at the last rites too
The contours of COVID-19 have assumed different shapes in different cities. The suffering has been no less, however. The need for isolation centres was never more felt, given the nuclear family structures. The demand for oxygen beds and cylinders has gone up exponentially. Food and medical care are major issues too. The healthcare infrastructure is overwhelmed but cries for help have not gone unheeded with socio-religious organisations rising to the occasion.
The Calvary Temple is a case in point. A beehive of activity with Sunday worshippers, it is now a 300-bed facility.
The desire to help — from verifying information to providing dry rations — is genuine and commendable, cutting across the social divide.
About 86 members of the Bhagyanagar Ayyappa Seva Samithi are ensuring that poor families affected by the pandemic do not go hungry. They identify and deliver nutritious food to nearly 300 families every day, according to K. Radha Krishna of the samithi.
Seva Bharathi, an outfit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Telangana, has set up a call centre with a team of 70 doctors and executives to provide medical advice to callers. A 200-bed isolation centre at RVK School, Annojiguda, serves symptomatic and asymptomatic people and provides them with medical care, lodging and boarding free of charge, says K.M. Sumalatha vice-president of Seva Bharathi. The organisation is distributing dry rations to private school teachers, barbers, maids, autorickshaw drivers and those struggling to make ends meet.
Oxygen therapy centre
Several Muslim groups and volunteers have been at the forefront, providing crucial interventions to those in need. Recently, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Telangana-Odisha zone set up a 50-bed oxygen therapy centre in Wadi-e-Huda near Shaheen Nagar.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Telangana zone and its sister concern, frontier organisation SiO (Students Islamic Organisation of India), DARE (Doctors Association for Relief and Education), PSF (Professionals Solidarity Forum) are also providing COVID-19 related information, running a helpline, distributing food packets and oxygen in Hyderabad, Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Sangareddy, Zaheerabad, Adilabad and Nirmal. “Our volunteers are also performing the last rites of the dead,” says Mr. Hamid Mohammed Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Telangana zone.
The Social Data Initiative Forum headed by Azam Khan in Hyderabad and Sanaullah Khan of Nizamabad are assisting patients and their family members in getting admission to hospitals. They are also helping with the last rites of the dead.
The Calvary Temple in Miyapur is a beacon of hope with its founder, Brother P. Satish Kumar, converting the evangelical non-denominational Christian Church into an isolation centre for the less-privileged patients. Fifty of the 300 beds here have oxygen facility. The centre ensures 24×7 medical care apart from providing nutritious food and medicines to the inmates. Ankura hospital and St. Theresa’s Hospital are extending their support in providing medical care at the Calvary Temple.
YMCA Secunderabad, the most popular summer camp destination for children in twin cities, has put all its activities on hold and have started a 30-bed COVID care facility in association with Unicorpus, a not-for-profit group of doctors from CMC Vellore. Aimed at accommodating virus-affected patients with mild symptoms and those who cannot afford space to isolate themselves at home, the YMCA provides free medicare, breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, Jayakar Daniel, the president of YMCAs of Greater Hyderabad, informs that there’s no oxygen facility at the centre. Three doctors, three nurses, attendants, and security round the clock is ensured. Mr. Daniel says the YMCA Committee had helped in providing groceries to the needy last year during the total lockdown but felt a greater need for isolation centres this year. Hence, the decision to convert their rooms into an isolation facility. “Fifteen beds are occupied at present and if the demand goes beyond 30, we are ready to open up more rooms,” says Mr. Daniel.
Langars to the succour of migrants
The langars at Gurudwaras in Hyderabad have never been in so much demand as they are now. After the lockdown was announced, a few gurudwaras have started community kitchens to provide free meals for migrant workers and the homeless. The gurudwaras are also extending a helping hand to patients who are in home isolation by providing them oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators free of charge.
Gurudwara Sahib, Secunderabad, and Gurudwara Sahib, Ameerpet, are at the forefront in providing oxygen cylinders. They have procured 75 oxygen cylinders, each with 10 litres capacity, and are planning to procure 50 more to meet the ever-increasing demand. A COVID-19 positive report, doctor’s prescription, Aadhaar proof and a refundable deposit of ₹2,000 need to be submitted to obtain a cylinder, says GSS president S. Baldev Singh Bagga.