- 36-year-old Mohammad Javed Khan is the sole bread winner of a family of 5
- Mr Khan’s income witnessed a dip due to the pandemic
- Despite financial constraints, Mr Khan started free auto ambulance service
New Delhi: With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic came some of the heart-wrenching visuals of people carrying their Novel coronavirus stricken patients to hospitals on their backs due to either lack of availability of ambulances or financial constraints. While many of us consumed these visuals and news like any other news piece, 36-year-old Mohammad Javed Khan, an auto-rickshaw driver from Bhopal knew he had to do something. Mr. Khan couldn’t see people scrambling for medical treatment and decided to convert his auto-rickshaw into an ambulance equipped with an oxygen cylinder, hand sanitiser, PPE kit, and oximeter.
Talking to NDTV about his decision, Mr Khan said,
I use social media and regularly follow the news, so I was well aware of the COVID-19 situation and its disastrous impact. I saw someone carrying their mother on shoulders, another person ferrying his father on a cart. Back then, ambulances were charging Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 10,000 for a distance of 5km. I thought I should do something for humanity and for my own people. Today, everything is just a search away so I instantly opened YouTube and searched for things a life-saving ambulance should have.
While one friend arranged an oxygen cylinder for Mr Khan’s auto-ambulance, another helped him with an oximeter. Mr Khan then learned how to use an oxygen cylinder and the oximeter from a doctor to help people he would be ferrying in his auto.
The free auto-ambulance service was started in April. I offered to ferry patients anywhere in Bhopal. Autos have a small engine so I can cover 35-40 kms at one go. So far, I have ferried 90 patients and have even covered a long distance of say 25-30 kms, said Mr Khan.
To protect himself from catching the virus while helping patients, Mr Khan added a shield between the driver seat and passenger seat and would also wear a face mask, and personal protective equipment (PPE). He also had to send his family – two daughters, one son and a wife to his in-laws’ house.
Mr Khan, the eldest son to his parents, had to leave his education mid-way after his father met with an accident and had to take the reins of the family and work to make ends meet. Before the pandemic, Mr Khan used to earn Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 1,300 a day as he had registered his auto with various ride-hailing service providers like Ola, Uber and Rapido. In the words of Mr Khan,
I used to earn well and had a good business.
However, with the pandemic, the number of passengers dropped and subsequently his daily income came down to Rs. 500 to Rs. 600 a day. Owing to the COVID-19 induced lockdown, Mr Khan’s two brothers, who are daily wage earners, had no source of income and therefore needed financial support from him. Despite his meager income, Mr Khan, the sole bread-winner of the family, decided to ferry patients for free.
Further talking about how he managed to feed his family and also help COVID patients, Mr Khan said,
I earn enough to fill my stomach. For the ambulance, I used my savings and also sold my wife’s locket.
Mr Khan also distributed ration to 900 people. Similar to the monthly ration he gets for his family, he got kits consisting of 3kg pulses, 5kg atta, 2kg sugar, tea leaves, 2 litre oil, and spices. As per the information shared by Mr Khan, his efforts were recognised by Ketto, online fundraising platform, that provided help of Rs. 2,30,000 to him. Netizens were also all praises for Mr Khan when ANI, a news agency shared his story on social media back in April. Here are some of the reactions:
Lauding his for his selfless deed, a Twitter user wrote, “In this unprecedented situation, society need more of this kind. More power to this generous person. Heartful of respect.”
In this unprecedented situation, society need more of this kind. More power to this generous person. Heartful of respect ????????????????
— Asit Kumar Behera (@akbehera_12) April 30, 2021
Another user said, “Sir many of us don’t deserve people like you. Salute”
Sir many of us dont deserve people lile you . Salute ❤????????????????????
— Aditya Anamaya (@AnamayaAd) April 30, 2021
“Beautiful help….we have real heroes. Kudos to you sir”, wrote another.
Beautiful help….we have real heros ????????♀️????????❤️kudos to you sir
— Shweta Gupta???? (@ShwetaGup001) April 30, 2021
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.