It was 10:30 PM and there was panic at my house. My entire family had tested positive and my father’s oxygen saturation level had gone down to 65-67. I did not know what to do, as I was Covid positive too. I couldn’t have stepped out and no one was coming to the houses of Covid positive people to provide help. With much difficulty I procured 3 oxygen cylinders for my family. That was when I understood the value of an oxygen cylinder for a Covid positive patient. The common Indian mentality is to sell off something if we don’t need it and make money out of it. People suggested that I scrap the cylinders, as no pharmacists will take it. But I decided not to. I did not want others to feel the same helplessness, which I felt. So since last August, we have started the free oxygen cylinder Sewa drive. We began with 3 and today we have 40 cylinders. We have served more than 150 people.
During last year’s lockdown, me and few of my brothers felt ‘Ki kucch karna hai.’ We wanted to do something for those affected around us. That’s how SikhAid started. We began by distributing masks and sanitizers to all our Covid warriors- traffic personnel, doctors, and hospital staff who were working really hard. Then we started sanitizing hospital surroundings, police check posts, police stations and other public places. We distributed cooked meals, groceries like dal, rice, cooking oil and bathing soap to daily laborers. We also supplied ration kits to many parts of Odisha like Nimapara, Puri, Cuttack, Jajpur, Kendrapara, and Bhubaneswar. We have teams doing similar work in Pune, Cuttack, Barbil, Rourkela and Sambalpur. We prepared langar for over 20,000 people across Odisha who were affected by cyclone Amphan. Our volunteers travelled in boats to supply cooked meals, medicines for elderly, sanitary napkins for ladies, baby food for infants and other essentials. These days, we get a lot of calls from youngsters wanting to volunteer. But first, one needs to have complete knowledge of what an oxygen cylinder drive is. We cannot randomly give cylinders to people. We cannot them away unless we have a doctor’s recommendation and the required quantity. It is like playing with somebody’s life. Its great that the youth wants to volunteer but we would like to tell them that you could first be the superhero of your locality. If someone in your neighborhood tested positive, you should keep your distance from him or her but not so much that they feel helpless. You can give them a call and ask if they need any help and can just drop medicines, food or other essentials outside their house. This is the need of the hour- we have to think about humanity. Ego, selfishness, and jealousy, these things have to be kept aside.
Since the second wave started, we get nearly 400-500 calls a day. We manage to reach out to every missed call, because there might be an emergency patient in one of those calls. The situation is so bad that even pregnant ladies are calling up and requesting oxygen for their dying husbands. People sometimes do not believe that I have run out of cylinders as they assume I must have kept one aside for my family or myself. The thing is, if I keep one for myself, I will need it. Instead, if I give it to other people, God will keep me safe. Help people who need it now and God will save you. I believe in that.
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