New Delhi: Year 2020 has been dominated by worst pandemic the world witnessed in 100 years. The coronavirus outbreak brought lives across the world to a standstill infected more than 80 million people and claimed more than 1.7 million lives, with more than 140,000 lakh people losing their lives in India.
However, this is also the year which witnessed the world coming together to fight coronavirus. The year with its share of trials and tribulations threw up some exemplary work being done by organisations and individuals in this difficult time as the pandemic spread, a new breed of warriors with an indomitable spirit stood up bravely against it to take on the challenge head on. This year is dedicated to all Coronavirus warriors, who took it upon themselves to free the world from this highly infectious disease in one way or another. These warriors, who are fighting COVID-19 from the frontline include our doctors and other healthcare staff, who selflessly dedicated themselves to save lives.
As 2020 draws to an end, we look at the ‘COVID Heroes of India’ who inspired each one of us:
As per a study done by International Journal Of Infectious Diseases, more than 3 Lakh health workers got infected from coronavirus while on duty, whereas 2,500 died while fighting the infectious virus till August.
To safeguard their own families, the doctors, healthcare staff and other workers across the country didn’t even meet their family members for months, some even spend nights in their vehicles to assure that the virus doesn’t spread further.
Not just that, on duty, the healthcare workers brave all odds and fought the disease by wearing the Personal Protective Equipment suits for straight 6-8 hours, without water, food and even toilet breaks.
Apart from doing their bit to save lives of people, doctors across also don creative hats and started to motivate COVID-19 ward patients in their own unique ways – some dance off to ease the stress of the patients, while some performed yoga and laughing exercises.
Along with healthcare workers, there are many other frontline warriors that have gone an extra mile to do their bit. Here are some of them:
Jitender Singh Shunty Ensured The Final Journey Of COVID Victim Is Done Right
Because of fear and stigma around COVID-19 , many families abandon performing the last rites for their loved ones. Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal; an NGO in Delhi took it upon themselves to cremate those who die due to COVID.
Jitender Singh Shunty, Founder, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal shared with NDTV,
Sewa in any form must be done from the heart. During the time of coronavirus crisis, we saw many families who were unable to perform the last rites for their loved ones, some families were in quarantine themselves, while some didn’t want to do it because of fear of getting infected. We even saw cases when people abandon body of the deceased. That’s when we decided to help and give the departed a dignified send-off.
Jyotjeet Singh explaining all the precautions that are taken while cremating the body of the infected person added,
The disaster management team strictly adheres to the corona protocol of wearing PPE kits, gloves, masks, using a hand sanitizer. Every time we carry the bodies we sanitize the ambulance and maintain the safety of our team members.
The NGO has performed last rites of more than 200 people in last few months.
During this process, Jitender Singh and his family too contracted the virus, but that also never stopped them from doing this sewa.
Reel Life Villain, Real Life Super Hero, Actor & Philanthropist Sonu Sood
During the tough times of coronavirus, actor Sonu Sood came out to help lakhs of migrants workers who wanted to go back to their hometown during the COVID-19 lockdown. He helped as many people as he could during the crisis by arranging food, buses, trains and even chartered flights and in some cases providing livelihood. To help as many people as possible, the actor also launched a helpline number – 18001213711 for migrants living in Mumbai and wanting to go back to their home town. The actor along with his business partner and friend Neeti Goel also undertook distribution of cooked meals among migrant labourers stuck in various parts of Mumbai.
For his Noble act during the past few months, the actor has been conferred with the prestigious SDG Special Humanitarian Action Award by the Department of Planning of the Government of Punjab.
Apart from helping the migrants, back in April the actor also had offered his hotel in Mumbai for medical professionals on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 to stay. In a statement, he said, “In the tough times that we have been living and to support the national heroes who have been working tirelessly day and night, I open my hotel in Juhu for all the healthcare workers. Considering the mammoth duty these heroes are doing right now, this is the least we can do for them. We are all in this together, let’s all come forward and support them.”
Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna, Feeding Millions
From his Manhattan home, Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna took up the most important campaign of his life – Feed India initiative in which the chef provided food to the most vulnerable people. The initiative that started with providing cooked food, later switched to dry rations, with the objective that people in need should not go to sleep on an empty stomach. Till today, through his initiative the star chef has fed over 50 million meals across India.
Feed India Campaign was kick-started in March when the entire country was under a strict lockdown, in next few months, the initiative spread TO over 100 cities in the country. Under the initiative, Mr Khanna has partnered with the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and set up make-shift kitchens alongside highways and by roadsides, just to provide relief and support the migrant workers. He also partnered with various companies, philanthropic organisations and individuals to provide for millions of families across the country. For his work and campaign Feed India, the chef has recently also been felicitated with the Mother Teresa Memorial Award.
Two Childhood Friends Came Up With Dhoondh.com, A Website To Find Possible Plasma Donor
After going through the traumatic experience of finding a plasma donor, for his father-in-law, Adwitiya Mal along with his childhood friend Mukul Pahwa founded Dhoondh.com, a website that helps people in finding a possible plasma donor. He said, “Before my father-in-law was infected with COVID-19, we all were in our bubble that coronavirus is something that is happening outside our house and we all are in our safe spaces. But the bubble burst and the disease came INto the house. We were lucky to find the hospital for the treatment and a few days later we were informed that he needs plasma therapy and that’s when things got scary. It took us four days to find the donor. The desperation, franticness and the helplessness to find a possible match made us launch the website.”
Dhoondh is a Hindi word that means ‘to find’, after his own fight to find a possible plasma donor, Adwitiya Mal with his childhood friend Mukul Pahwa decided to make a website that closes the information gap. The duo invested over ₹227 lakh from their savings and developed the website that allows the patients and donors to register themselves on the platform so that both parties can simply connect. The patient can enter his/her details, get matched with a possible donor and connect. Currently, there are about 920 patients and about 201 donors registered on the site.
9-Months Pregnant Nurse In Karnataka Who Continued Her COVID-19 Duty
Back in May, when India was facing surge in coronavirus cases, a 9-months pregnant nurse Roopa Praveen Rao decided to not stay at home and instead resume her duty and serve people during these tough times.
Roopa who worked at Jayachamarajendra Government Hospital where traveled every day from Gajanuru village to Thirthahalli taluk, which took her about an hour to cover everyday, simply because she wanted to attend to the patients at the hospital at this crucial time.The nine-month pregnant nurse, working on COVID-19 frontline in Karnataka for six hours a day has emerged as a shining example for selfless dedication to work. She also won praise from Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa who expressed his gratitude towards her services in the hospital and requested her to go on maternity leave.
Andhra Pradesh IAS Officer Who Returned To Work With Her Month-Old
Initially, when the world was fighting the unknown battle of coronavirus – It was a massive coordination effort among various government departments and agencies. At that crucial time the chief of Visakhapatnam’s municipal body – Srijana Gummalla who was on maternity leave decided to return to her office with her month-old baby in her arms to resume work. The officer said it is the call of duty that motivated her to join office on priority. After delivering her baby boy, the officer immediately joined back and decided to give away her maternity leaves that are every women’s right in the country.
The IAS officer won many praises on social media including many politicians, for her courage to come back to work with her month-old baby.
Beach Warrior Chinu Kwatra Who Served More Than 2 Lakh Meals During COVID-19 Lockdown In Mumbai
One of the most hard hit states in India due to coronavirus crisis was Maharashtra. When the whole country went under the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, A social activist from Mumbai, Chinu Kwatra along with his few friends decided to provide support to the most vulnerable people in the city such as the guards, daily wage workers, migrants by providing them fresh nutritious and healthy meal during the day as a part of his campaign Roti Ghar.
Chinu Kwatra took help of dietician and nutritionists and made a meal plan for Roti Ghar and decided to distribute dal and rice to the people as it is high in protein. Today, operating out of a centralised kitchen in Thane, Chinu Kwatra along with his team is feeding over 10,000 people daily with meals that include dal, rice, vegetable and is providing freshly-cooked meals to four cities – Mumbai, Thane, Airoli, Bhiwandi. The initiative works on donations. Chinu runs various campaigns on social media and getS the donations to keep the campaign running. Moreover, he asks sponsors to come and serve these people meals.
In the coronavirus crisis, 6,30,880 meals have been freshly cooked and distributed and more than 2,89,590 people who have been benefitted with dry ration kits with the help of Roti Ghar initiative.
The Brave Anganwadi Workers
Meet Indira Garg, an anganwadi didi at Tarpal village located around 53 km from Udaipur. Her husband wanted her to sit at home and avoid her duty as an anganwadi worker during the coronavirus times as they feared the consequences of going out of the house. But quitting was not an option for Indira. After days of constant discussion, her husband agreed to let her go out for distribution of home rations and provide other support services to the village people like monitoring newborns weight, providing medical supplies and check-ups to the expecting mothers.
However, the community members were not ready to let her visit their home. They all feared the virus and thought letting Indira in will mean they are letting the virus come to their house. People were apprehensive and didn’t cooperate at all, especially for taking weight and measurement of their children.
But villagers’ attitude didn’t bother Indira, along with another ASHA workers of the village, she went all out to create awareness about the pandemic and the safety measures villagers need to take to stay safe from the virus. The duo also started counselling people. They tried to talk to people on various issues related to health, nutrition, and COVID-19.
Today, Indira is known as the fearless lady of her village, who braved all odds amid a pandemic to fight for the health of everyone in the village. COVID did put forth many challenges in their lives and yet they have not only ensured the services of anganwadi centre go on without any interruption, but have also provided government with much needed support in creating awareness about COVID, its safety measures, tracking and monitoring of COVID patients in remotest villages across the country. Because of her efforts today no one leaves the village without wearing a mask.
From Rajasthan to Maharashtra, meet 27-year-old Relu Vasave from Maharashtra’s smallest district, Nandurbar. In the pandemic, she rowed 14 km daily to reach out to expecting mothers, newborns, provide them the much needed support and make her village people aware about the COVID-19 crisis.
Under normal circumstances, women visit the anganwadi centre for check-ups and claim their rations. But, since the beginning of 2020, due to the pandemic, Relu has been rowing a boat everyday for 7 km each way that requireD two hours of her time, to reach out to the villagers and provide them services like Take Home Ration supple, medical checkup of expecting mothers, monitoring weight of newborns, counselling villagers about breastfeeding and other nutritious food so that they remain healthy. Till date, Relu has helped 138 women, children and provided them with support that they will value for their entire lifetime.