“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama.
Josephites (students of St Joseph’s Academy) understood this well… The second wave of the pandemic was horrendous, to say the least, mayhem snatching away precious life, creating a vacuum in the lives of people who are left behind staring into the darkness for reflection of light adjusting to living with the memories of their loved ones.
To help their brethren, the SJA Alumni Association under the aegis of its President, Ajay Goyal, created a WhatsApp group SJA AA Covid Helpline and so began the crusade. Prominent Joesphites were added to the group and eager hands were made admin and one thing leading to another, the group expanded and the messages seeking help started pouring in. Initially, the desperate calls were for oxygen cylinders. Morning to midnight, Josephites started working to arrange the cylinders. Various logistics were taken into consideration and the best option to help the people in need was to join hands with Gurudwara Gobind Nagar, Race Course, Dehradun, which was also being managed by prominent Josephite Jamanbir Singh. Generous contributions by Josephites, namely Praveen Chandhok, Jaideep Datta, Deepak Vohra, Sandeep Pal, Praveen Anand, Dr Kranti Nanda, and Group Captain Onkar Nath were made to help Gurudwara Gobind Nagar procure oxygen cylinders. An estimated 1500+ citizens of Dehradun were facilitated with emergent oxygen requirements.
In the true Josephite spirit, volunteers from across the batches came forward, responding in real-time to requests for help in finding hospital beds, blood plasma, medicines, oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ambulance, RT PCR test coordination, and many other relief measures. Soon the Josephites were helping people not just in Dehradun but requests much beyond Dehradun were catered for in Haridwar, Roorkee, Saharanpur, Meerut, Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai. The medical infrastructure and the governing bodies were overwhelmed by the sudden surge of such mammoth proportions, which required various sections of the society to stand up and synergise efforts to form a strong shield in fighting the pandemic. The Josephites rose to the occasion with the single purpose of providing relief and assistance to all those in need – caste, creed and colour never mattered, what mattered was humanity.
The SJA AA COVID Helpline was able to accomplish its mission in different ways. Some of the noteworthy ways in which Josephites’ never say die spirit could make a difference included:
1. Arranging Hospital beds and ICUs for almost 250 plus patients admitted to various hospitals on calls and contacts used by Josephites.
2. Another major crisis during the second wave was the shortage of life-saving drugs and medical equipment. Thanks to Josephite Doctors, pharmacists, and medical equipment traders, the SJA AA Covid Helpline could arrange for vaccines, medicines and BiPAP machines, oximeters, flowmeters containing the current information about the usage of medicine, alternatives, and sources of availability.
3. Blood Plasma Therapy was being highly recommended by medical professionals. Matching the Plasma donors with recipients became a big challenge. The SJA AA COVID Helpline worked tirelessly and managed to get 70+ eligible donors with as many as 33 successful matches and donations.
4. The Association distributed over 500 water bottles, arranged by Vijay Vacchani, to front liners, medical support staff, and COVID to the patients at the government hospital (Coronation Hospital) which was facing scarcity of drinking water for the COVID patients.
5. SJA AA provided financial support to a financially weak family whose newborn baby was facing medical issues and required ventilator support. The amount was used to clear hospital and medical bills. Praveen Chandhok, former President of SJA AA, at the request of Shubham Kapruwan, who took the complete initiative to help the distressed family, bore the expense of the ambulance and other expenses which the family was not in a position to bear.
6. SJA AA as a part of its responsibility to educate and share relevant information organised two online sessions with Doctors in the US answering various questions and apprehensions. Josephite Robindra Sachdeva (Batch of 1982), President, The Imagindia Institute, arranged these valuable sessions in coordination with the Managing Committee of the SJA AA, particularly with Josephite Kalpana Pandey, VP, Outstation. The video recording of these is also available on the SJA AA YouTube channel for those who could not attend the session.
7. Four hundred dry fruit packets were delivered to Doon Hospital by SJA AA and 200 to Coronation hospital with the help of Josephite Dr Alok Jain for distribution among health workers as a token of our appreciation, and patients for their nutritional requirements.
8. SJA AA donated 500 N-95 to the SSP, Dehradun, for distribution among Policemen who were constantly performing their duty in the face of prevailing risk.
9. Josephites Deepak Vohra, Pankaj Agarwal, Praveen Chandhok, Sameer Uniyal once again came to the forefront and procured 125 medical home isolation kits consisting of Thermometers, Oximeters (provided by SJA AA), and 1000 N95 Masks which were donated in the remote villages of Tehri Garhwal with the help of Cabinet Minister Subodh Uniyal and in Jageshwar-Almora with the help of local BJP leader Gaurav Pande that lacked the essential medical infrastructure to fight the COVID.
10. SJA AA also organised two notable vaccination camps for age group 45+ and for 18+ to 45 in collaboration with Krishna Medical Centre Hospital run by illustrious Alumnus Vijay Khanna and his better half Dr Geeta Khanna.
DOCTORS ON CALL: Our very own Josephite doctors went beyond the call of duty in providing 24 x 7 online medical assistance by clearing doubts and sharing relevant information on the SJA AA COVID Helpline Group. Dr Alok Jain, Dr Kranti Nanda, Dr Vaibhav Chachra, Dr Avinal Kalra, Dr Gaurav Luthra and Dr Mayank Dabral were active doctors available on the COVID helpline WhatsApp group. They were always there, even at odd hours, to help respond to any emergent situation with any of the Josephites. Their inputs, priceless advice gained through years of experience were extremely helpful for the patients who didn’t have access to the doctors or were looking for a second opinion.
GOING THE LAST MILE:
The Shaurya Naman group was formed by Josephites’ Batch of 1992. It took up the task of providing relief material and medicines to the far-flung villages of Tehri Garhwal in liaison with the Asha Workers, which are still not equipped to fight COVID. The Group Headed by its President, Gaurav Jain, Deepak Dhyani, Sameer Uniyal, Kritharth Uniyal, Taresh Bhakri, Anshul Jain, and others took up the challenge of personally visiting the hilly regions of Uttarakhand, driving through treacherous and non-motorable roads and delivered medicines, masks, digital thermometers, etc., which were in acute shortage. They also educated the villagers about COVID infection, its symptoms, and how to take medication and manage the infection with limited resources at their disposal and ensured timely support to 15 villages to fight the pandemic in the hill region.
Collectively we have survived War, Poverty, Crime, Hunger, and continuing this streak, together, we shall always be there to help our brethren to fight this pandemic.