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

Nurses at the Cowichan District Hospital are thanking the community for following the health protocols during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left are nurses Jacqueline Kendall, Melissa Bustard and Heidi Ferris. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Pandemic year like no other, Cowichan nurses say

May 10-16 is National Nursing Week

Island Health’s new Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Rd. is now planned to be open in the fall. (File photo)
Wellness and Recovery Centre now to open in the fall

Three community dialogues scheduled for May

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Before you take on a pet, make sure you want to have it for life. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Editorial: A pet is a lifetime commitment

Tons of people are getting pets during the pandemic, some for the first time

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read