A scarcity of oxygen for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients has become a burning issue in India, as the government scrambles to make the life-saving substance available to those in need. The nation’s Supreme Court has even declared the situation a national emergency and asked the federal government to draw up plans to meet the demand.
As the second wave of coronavirus grips India, the distress and suffering unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic have failed to take a toll on one thing in the country – human kindness.
A thought for others, concern for strangers, and a passion to make a difference, however small, in the fight against this pandemic has brought forth several examples providing a sense of hope amidst the grim situation.
‘Oxygen Man’ of Mumbai’s Malad Sells Car to Buy O2 Cylinders
Shahnawaz Sheikh lives in the Mumbai suburb of Malad. He has been working to help make the supply of oxygen available to COVID patients.
As the Indian media reported how the 31-year-old sold his Ford Endeavour SUV to donate oxygen cylinders to hospitals and COVID patients, it triggered a wave of reactions from as many 50,000 netizens on Facebook.
Sheikh has also set up a mini control room that runs day and night to facilitate and coordinate with people in need. The team is getting about 500 such distress calls every day, reported India Today.
He has been working passionately to supply oxygen since last year after his friend’s wife died for want of oxygen while being rushed to the hospital. After selling his car, Sheikh managed to raise nearly $29,000 with which he procured about 160 oxygen cylinders. He has so far helped nearly 4,000 people with free oxygen cylinders. The emptied cylinders are taken back, refilled, and used again for the ever-increasing amount patients.
Food Angels – Delivering in Time of Need
An NGO called Guru-ka-Langar Eye Hospital in Punjab state’s capital Chandigarh, is giving 24-hour assistance to COVID-19 patients under home quarantine.
H.S. Sabharwal, Secretary of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sewa Society that runs the hospital, told Sputnik that initiatives are being taken to help COVID-19-hit families and patients. “Till now we were running free meals for people but now we are also giving out oxygen cylinders, pulse meters and oxygen concentration machines as well”.
Gurudwaras across the cities are also delivering free food to families in quarantine due to COVID-19.
“Our phone is never silent these days. There are so many families that are at home depending on cooked food as they are quarantined and cannot procure meals themselves”, Jangveer Singh, a volunteer at a Gurudwara in Chandigarh told Sputnik.
In Delhi, the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee has offered to convert langar halls, huge areas where hundreds of people partake community meals, into makeshift COVID hospitals. Five Gurudwara under DSGMC are providing home delivery of free meals to infected families.
Businessman in Mumbai Provides Vanity Vans to Cops on Covid-19 Duty
Amidst restrictions in the city, Mumbai-based businessman Ketan Rawal is trying to make life a little easier for the policemen who are deployed at different places around the city.
India Today quoted Rawal as saying, “They are frontline workers. I feel very sad when I see women police officials do not even get to use the washroom. They have to stand in the summer’s heat for several hours. Therefore, I have decided to provide all vanity vans free of cost to police officials”.
“I provide vanity vans to Bollywood superstars including Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn, Rohit Shetty, and many more. I have maximum vanity vans in Bollywood. I am looking at providing them all to cops. It is the time to help each other”, he was quoted as saying by the news site.
The Maharashtra government has imposed several restrictions to contain the spread of the virus and a heavy deployment of police has been done throughout Mumbai to enforce COVID protocols.
Throwing out a Lifeline
With the pandemic sweeping through the nation, getting oxygen for the needy has become a real struggle for the man on the street. Jumping in to fill this need are several religious and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across the cities.
In Gurugram (Gurgaon), adjacent to Delhi, a team of people is working for the Hemkunt Foundation that is giving free oxygen to people in the city.
In Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, a Gurudwara, Sikh’s place of worship, has started an “Oxygen Langar”.
As soon as a distress call is made, a car equipped with an oxygen cylinder is sent to a patient until a hospital bed is acquired, local media reported.