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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A boat caught on fire this morning (May 11) in Port Hardy. (Adam Harding/Port Hardy Fire Rescue Facebook photo)
Fishing boat catches fire in Port Hardy, owner’s quick thinking puts out flames

The incident is a good reminder to always have a working fire extinguisher onboard your boat

School District 85 logo
Fort Rupert Elementary School gets funding from MusiCounts

The $1 million investment will support 95 schools

Agree or disagree with North Island Rising? Write a letter to the editor at editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print.
McQuarrie: Budget meeting drama caused by unruly councillor

It was an amazing and unexpected response to what should have been… Continue reading

The medical clinic building in Port McNeill. (Bill McQuarrie photo)
Medical clinic gives update on health care in Port McNeill

The town appears to be ‘closer to a new and sustainable medical model for our town’

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Most Read