Breathing hope into the lives of people in need of oxygen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, 26-year-old Arshi has earned the sobriquet of “cylinder waali bitiya”—the daughter with the oxygen cylinder. What began as a struggle to procure the life-saving gas for her coronavirus positive father, who managed to beat the viral disease, has now turned into a mission to save as many lives as possible in this district and those around it including the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand.
Perched atop her trusted companion—a scooter—the young woman, a resident of Madaar Khel locality in Shahjahanpur, has so far distributed around 20 oxygen cylinders for free and is helped by her two brothers and some other associates. Recalling the beginning of her philanthropic journey, Arshi said on the first day of Ramzan, the condition of her father Mashoor, who was not keeping well, began deteriorating, and her worst fears came true when he tested positive for COVID-19. While in-home isolation, his oxygen levels started falling and the doctor asked me to arrange an oxygen cylinder.
However, when I approached the authorities, I was told that patients in home isolation cannot get oxygen cylinders and was advised to get my father admitted to a hospital, according to Arshi.
“Despite moving from pillar to post, I was not able to arrange a cylinder. As desperation grew, I somehow managed to get one from the office of the city magistrate,” Arshi told PTI.
“I then came in contact with a social organisation based in Uttarakhand through WhatsApp which provided oxygen for my father, and he subsequently recovered from the illness,” she added.
After this incident, I realised what families of Covid patients needing oxygen must be going through, she said. “Ever since, anyone who sought oxygen either through phone or WhatsApp was helped. I have provided oxygen to several people in Shahbad and Hardoi (UP) and Uttarakhand,” the 26-year-old said, adding that she does not charge any money.
The young woman has received many laurels for her heroic actions not only from those whom she has helped but also from the state’s politicians. Shahjahanpur district president of Samajwadi Party Tanveer Khan said Arshi has embarked on a mission to provide oxygen cylinders to those who need it.
“Amidst the COVID-19, Arshi is doing a historic work, without caring for her own life,” Khan told PTI.
Showering praises on Arshi, local resident Syed Naved said the woman provided him with three oxygen cylinders for his COVID-19 positive father. “May Allah fulfill all her wishes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shahjahanpur Chief Medical Officer S P Gautam said there was no shortage of oxygen in the district and stressed that the life-saving gas was being provided to COVID-19 patients who are in home isolation. “There is no shortage of oxygen in the district, and oxygen is available in the hospitals. Apart from this, people who are COVID-19 infected and are in home isolation, oxygen cylinders are being provided to them by the city magistrate,” he said.