Prashant Thakkar provides food packets and cold water to ambulance drivers waiting outside a 1200 bedded hospital in the state of Gujarat, India. Thakkar is part of the Satsang Seva Mission where volunteers are working across 12 states in India to help fill in the gap during the COVID-19 health crisis. (Photo submitted by the Satsang Seva Mission)

Prashant Thakkar provides food packets and cold water to ambulance drivers waiting outside a 1200 bedded hospital in the state of Gujarat, India. Thakkar is part of the Satsang Seva Mission where volunteers are working across 12 states in India to help fill in the gap during the COVID-19 health crisis. (Photo submitted by the Satsang Seva Mission)

Column: Let’s uplift the heroes in India’s battle against COVID-19

India reported over 360,000 infections on Monday, May 3

India is hurting.

I wake up every morning to SOS calls on social media asking for plasma, oxygen cylinders, hospital space – and then there are deaths being announced, mourning, grief…

It’s been a tough week for India and for families and expats living in Canada, who are helpless and anxious about the 350,000 cases a day and 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the beautiful South Asian country. And these are just reported cases. For a country like India, there are thousands of cases not reported due to the lack of access to sufficient medical care in multiple regions.

From the start of the pandemic, there was fear that India would not be able to cope if cases got out of hand. But for the better part of last year, and until recently, cases were not as high as they are now.

The government relaxed rules, allowed election rallies, and let the Kumbh Mela – a religious pilgrimage and festival for Hindus in India – to go forward. There were close to six million people who took a dip in the holy Ganga river in April. This was at a time when the second wave was ravaging through communities.

Read More: Opposition parties support sending COVID-19 aid to India; no specifics from Canada

There is obvious frustration with the Indian government. Why didn’t Narendra Modi’s BJP government impose stricter lockdowns, or postpone religious gatherings so as to protect citizens? And now Modi is trying to crack down on complaints being made on social media about the government’s handling of the pandemic, to the extent that the Supreme Court of India has had to order the state and police to stop the clampdown.

I am not going to go into that. Instead, I want to highlight the kind of community work being done by volunteers across the country, to help save their neighbours, friends, family and anyone else who needs help.

My mother lives in the city of Chandigarh in northern India. She got infected with the virus earlier in April and suffered through three days of bad fever, cough, sore throat and nausea. But she recovered within the week and didn’t have to go to the hospital. She believes she recovered quickly as she had the first shot of vaccine a week before she got COVID-19.

Read More: ‘We don’t know what to do’: Okanagan man shares COVID’s impact on family in India

For those four days, my heart stopped. I lost my dad in 2019, and the thought of not being able to access my mother due to travel restrictions into India, was making me anxious. All the news about no beds, no oxygen, people dying on the streets – added to that anxiety. But she recovered, unlike a lot of people we know.

So right after she got better, my mother Harleen stepped up with friends, community members to start finding verified sources of oxygen, plasma and hospital beds.

And there are hundreds of people doing the same.

On the streets, you can see people giving water and food to ambulance workers. Strangers are finding oxygen and plasma for people who are getting care outside a hospital due to the lack of beds and oxygen supply.

I can’t even imagine what health care professionals, frontline workers, volunteers, non-profits, food banks and shelters are having to deal with right now. Imagine if Canada’s health care system got overwhelmed, or the panic that would ensue if hospitals didn’t have enough space, or couldn’t take any more calls.

These people are working 24/7 to help with the crisis that has taken too many lives, and I salute them.

Currently, human strength, endurance and kindness is being tested in India and across the world. All we can do is make sure we give some time, or a listening ear to anyone who needs to share their pain.

COVID-19 is not over yet.

Aman Parhar is the publisher and editor of Vanderhoof Omineca Express, Caledonia Courier with Black Press Media. She has lived in Canada since 2016.

CoronavirusIndia

Just Posted

A Cariboo Regional District director and School District 27 trustee, Angie Delainey is also a fourth generation business owner in downtown Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Angie Delainey appointed Cariboo Regional District representative on regional board

Delainey and Steve Forseth represent the CRD at the North Central Local Government Association

From October 2020 to April 2021 more than 540 centimeters of snow fell at Barkerville. (Lindsay Chung - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Not so average April snowfall in Barkerville

59 centimeters of white stuff fell last month

Quesnel RCMP Staff Sergeant Darren Dodge took the job in June 2020. (Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel RCMP Staff Sergeant praises work of mental health crisis team

“I know people will say, ‘is this the role for police?’ and I don’t know,” Darren Dodge said of the unit

Crews work to repair Horsefly Road east of Williams Lake . (Ministry of Transportation video)
MoTI activates district operations centre, response to flood damaged roads in Cariboo region

Engineers, experts being pulled from across the province to help

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Most Read