Voluntary agencies in Srinagar have stepped in to help cope with the sudden surge of Covid cases in the Valley. The abrupt rise is attributed to the administration’s decision to keep tourist spots open without enforcing any Covid protocol. ‘The Government was keen to project a picture of normalcy and people, tired and impoverished, also threw caution to the wind,’ explained a health worker.
But while there is evidence to suggest that government agencies fell short, NGOs stepped up to fill the breach. Mohammad Adnan, who was frantically looking for an oxygen cylinder for his mother, was directed to an NGO, SRO Kashmir, and all it took was a phone call for the cylinder to arrive. Bashir Ahmad’s neighbours refused to help him shift his father to the hospital for fear of infection. A call to ‘Help Poor Trust’ brought an ambulance to his door.
Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar’s Rajbagh, got worried when his father’s condition deteriorated last week, who was COVID positive. He called one of his relatives to ferry his father to the hospital, but he refused fearing he might get infected. “Then I called helpline number of Help Poor Trust, an NGO, which sent an ambulance and my father was taken to SMHS hospital Srinagar, where he is now being treated,” he said.
Mohammad Afaaq Saeed from ‘SRO Kashmir’, said the NGO has 223 oxygen concentrators, 250 oxygen cylinders, 250 non-invasive machines, four ambulances and other equipment. “We also have beds, air mattresses, wheel chairs and other equipment, 90 percent of which are now with patients.”
On an average 70 enquiries were being received daily by the NGO supported financially by the people, he informed. “We work 24×7 and deliver things even at night,” he said. A wing had been set up to deliver food to those who asked for it. It has also set up a community graveyard.
Help Poor Trust’s Mohammad Ali Lone informed they have 11 ambulances including a critical care ambulance. Besides it has 150 oxygen cylinders and 100 oxygen concentrators. The NGO also provides medicines and financial support to needy,” Lone said.
Another charitable organization ‘Athrout’ has been distributing masks, and providing medicines. It has kept more than 200 oxygen concentrators available for patients. “We also have Auto BIBAP and CPAP machines besides other medical equipment,” said a volunteer.
Ehsaas International recently donated 300 PPE kits to Srinagar Municipal Corporation to be used by its front-line workers for sanitization drives.
Sajad Ahmad Khan (39) along with a group of youth have arranged 168 funerals to COVID victims since last year in Kashmir. They do everything from carrying coffin to graveyard, dig graves and also bury dead bodies. Khan provides all the equipment to his team (volunteers) like PPE kits, sanitisers and other things. He has also created a social media page ‘Athwass’ where he posts information when any person needs any service.