Covid19 hit India hard. Even for a collective as resilient as us, this deadly disease left everyone powerless. Help came from strangers and connections who were often far removed from immediate circles of contacts. Yet, this usually meant the difference between life and death for families struggling to save a loved one.
Across the country, countless strangers stood up for people they did not know at all, sourcing medicines, oxygen, hospital beds, and even providing support for the long lines of people waiting in queues to have their loved ones cremated. Thanks to these brave souls standing up for others irrespective of caste, creed, or social standing, we learned the true meaning of being human.
These are the stories of regular Indians who pooled resources, set up connect and care systems for the elderly, and even created apps and businesses for housemaids and drivers who found themselves suddenly out of a much-needed livelihood.
While the media covered the big stories, thousands of everyday people moved forward with the task of helping those who needed it most. We heard true stories of people like retired Air India employee, KR Srinivas Rao (70 years), from Hyderabad who cycled miles from his home to deliver lifesaving rations, medicines, and other essentials to COVID-positive patients and those in need.
In yet another case, a group of youth who started helping within their community realized the need to scale up if they wanted to help the flood of people reaching out to them. Student Arnav Praneet and the initial collection of administrators set up a database of resources that they verified in real-time. Working alongside him were Ayaan Khan, Aditya Agarwal, Sudipto Ghosh, Mudit Aggarwal, Harbhajansingh Pujari, Debodhwani Mishra, Debaditya Halder, Vishwam Srivastava, Jaiditya Jha, Aditya Gandhi, Shivam Solanki, Prakhar Bhargava, Avi Sehgal, and Ipsita Choudhury.
They pushed the limits of social media awareness to tell people where to go for help, get oxygen, rush critical cases, and more. This team of driven, beautiful souls was soon several hundred volunteers strong and handled over 20 critical cases every day at its peak. In days to come, they even set up a website and a helpline to reach those who weren’t on social media yet still needed help.
But this is not all. Some went much further. Punekar Akshay Kothawale, an autorickshaw driver, used his Rs 2 lakh wedding fund to provide food and rations for over 1,550 families since March last year. Even today, he continues to distribute food packets to migrant workers around the city.
While millions struggled with the virus, help came from the most unexpected places. Matron Jeminiben Joshi, a 71-year-old retired nurse from Gujarat, saw that frontline health workers were overwhelmed and overextended. At significant risk to herself, she resumed active nursing duty at a hospital and spent 12 hours a day administering medicines, oxygen and taking samples for testing.
At its worst, the death toll was thousands strong. Hospitals ran out of oxygen and asked many to source their own oxygen if they wanted a bed. This is where angels like Gaurav Rai, the ‘Oxygen man’ of Bihar, were a godsend. At the cost of Rs 1.25 lakh from his savings, he procured and delivered oxygen cylinders to those critically ill around his state. His phone would seldom stop ringing, but his determination to help those who needed it most saved the lives of at least 1,500 critically ill people who had nowhere else to turn to at that time.
Each of us probably knows many, many more such worthy human stories. Lifelong Online believes that these remarkably selfless stories must be recorded and celebrated for all to see. Archiving these true stories online is one of the best ways to honor and thank them for their service and courage. This collection hopes to serve as a bookmark in this chapter of humanity where we can all open a page, read and draw inspiration from the best.
If you have an account of such unknown people who helped you get through these difficult times, share it on any social media platform with the hashtag #NeverForgetLifelong or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
For in sharing these stories, we herald a resounding thank you to the faceless and nameless thousands who stepped up when the nation needed them most.
This article has been created by Studio18 on behalf of Lifelong Online.