By Sunita Vijay
A drowning man will clutch at a straw. A little help is big enough to save a life. Just some litres of oxygen can be life-giving. Timely medicines and care can save critical COVID-19 patients! Raghav Juyal, famous actor, dancer, choreographer and the heartthrob of youngsters, is the young messiah procuring and providing life-saving aids to the affected residents of Uttarakhand.
There is a monstrous surge in COVID-19 cases in rural areas of Uttarakhand, medical facilities are inadequate to handle the humongous numbers and reaching the base hospital(s) in Haldwani or Dehradun is a herculean task for a patient, especially for the poor during the lockdown. Raghav is humbly and untiringly reaching out to the affected patients in far-off villages of Uttarakhand providing full support to an administration that is hard-pressed and in fire-fighting mode during such an unmanageable situation. He and his brother, Yashasvi Juyal, are working shoulder-to-shoulder along with hundreds of other volunteers who have shown utmost zeal and enthusiasm to help COVID-19 patients during this pandemic.
When I called him, he was in the field, thrilled to receive another considerable lot of oxygen cylinders. Raghav has recently recovered from COVID-19. He spared himself no time to rest; rather, his robust enthusiasm is nonpareil. He is working round the clock tapping his connections, calling the brand companies, NGOs, and appealing to people to come forward to help his state.
Raghav was seen in a video on social media two days ago when he revealed he will be promoting brands for free, however, instead of paying him money for endorsing their products, the brands would have to aid Uttarakhand with money or resources. The actor appealed to brands to donate to Uttarakhand. He is trying all means to help the administration pull the state out of this crisis.
Raghav has behaved more maturely than his age, taking no time in realising the gravitas of the situation. ‘The situation is too bad in rural Uttarakhand. I am doing nothing. I am merely supporting the administration in aiding them with beds, oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators. I can’t experiment at this time. We just have to provide what the patient needs, life-saving aids and this is what I am trying to do,’ he added.
On being asked when he took the plunge to help, he says, ‘My acquaintances and I have been receiving distress calls from Uttarakhand for help in terms of arranging oxygen and life-saving equipment for COVID patients. My team got to the ground and we have helped many, realising little that villages could be the next target of this pandemic attack at such a mass level. As a team of volunteers and with the support of a few foundations, we started providing aid to the administration and NGOs who have been working with the villagers. We are receiving support daily.’
Raghav is thrilled to have almost arranged 8300 litres of oxygen. He has sent 1000 litres to Pauri and will soon be sending it to Kumaon. He has cracked a deal for 100 beds with an NGO in Gujarat and expects help from another NGO in Mumbai. The Anupam Kher Foundation has also extended help. Many others are helping him in terms of aid and physical support. Today, he made a deal for twenty oxygen concentrators and is expecting a hundred more very soon.
‘We connected with a few officers in the administration to understand the situation and we were told that help from all quarters at this time is crucial. We managed to bring some doctors, volunteers, donors, officers on one platform, where we launched a mission to strengthen basic health infrastructure in remote hill districts far away from cities. Khushiyaan Foundation started receiving a good response on my call and we could raise some funds through the kind-hearted people for our foundation. I also offered commercial companies a waiver of fees to promote products in lieu of help that can be provided to Uttarakhand,’ Raghav added.
Khushiyan Foundation got donors to Uttarakhand and plans to provide oxygen cylinders based on area and feasibility. ‘We faced a lot of struggle, as times are tough. I do not want to mention problems, I am looking for solutions, but our brilliant team sealed many deals for COVID infrastructure in rural Uttarakhand. Rachita Juyal, ADC to the Governor, had been very supportive in guiding us through these times.’
After an initial struggle, when Raghav was able to send a few D Type cylinders to Pauri Garhwal with the help of officers and field volunteers, his confidence grew. ‘The achievement motivated my team, and now we have many more cylinders, medicines and beds coming for hill districts to save lives of patients in far-flung villages of the Himalayas. Now we have 100 people working on a database helping the distressed with bed, ICU arrangement, cylinders and medicines.’
Raghav is continuously asking for help. He has appealed to his friends and followers to come forward, make teams, adopt villages that need help. He plans to strengthen medical infrastructure in remote primary health care centres; his team may assist in all possible manners to replicate. He is personally involved in getting the hill state out of the grim situation.
‘I am in support of my nation and stand with the fellow citizens. I respect all those who are fighting this pandemic on the ground. Let’s not complain or play the blame game. Let’s repair, patch and rebuild. Stay strong, join hands! Unity is strength!’ Raghav avers.