Staying Steady Through the Chaos

Seema Kurup

Experiences of working together with volunteers in a COVID support group in Bhopal

It’s’s tough to sleep. We are slowly becoming robots programmed to focus on the task at hand. Not grieve our friends, no time to occupy a corner and figure out what the hell is happening all around us…

Yesterday, Yusuf bhai from Prithvi Trust, Panna…left us. He had shared his last message in a fb post. It was only a few weeks ago that he had thundered in a zoom meeting about the absence of social security systems for social workers…Forever proactive. But we learnt that he kept pushing away the ventilator mask for two days. His entire circle of friends are in mourning. Who will we refer for Panna now…and what are we to do for his family? How will they ever get over this tragedy of losing their person in a matter of days. We grapple with the sudden news  of people leaving one after the other.

Last phase of Covid, we were absolutely unfazed. All of us were out in relief work. But this second wave comes with an eerie feeling. We are not stepping out and it does feel strange to not be there with your person. Yes, It does feel threatening this time…

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Meanwhile, the desktop work continues. That’s the basic minimum one can do as a citizen. So, the day is full of calls for beds, oxygen, etc etc etc etc…till we are ready to walk out on the streets and yell down the first inactive political leader we meet. Our elected MP is nowhere in sight.

So, it’s a sad mix of compassion and anger, frustration that one feels as people are turned away from hospitals….

Some good news as well in these bleak times. Davinder ma’am mentor to many of us, supporter of social causes fell and broke her knee, got hospitalized and is covid positive as well. The entire city and her students across states called up asking after her! Ajit Singh Indu Saraswat were already looking after her, but tested positive. Raju Kumar stepped in. Rahul Sharma was there today. Nilesh did a wonderful job of coordinating with agencies till we found a nurse… Prarthana Mishra Shivani Satyam Sachin…everyone pitched in to do their bit.

But the most wonderful thing was Samarthan’s thoughtful gesture of organizing a space for her in their ground floor office. Such humane and timely gestures are a huge morale booster for all of us. CSOs who are often bad mouthed have been leading the way through each and every crisis that the city has been facing.

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Does Davinder ma’am even know how much loved she is!

And then, a group of young people from ANSH and The Optimist Citizen put together a dedicated website with data of Covid related beds in the city. It has data of about 80 covid hospitals. More work on updating the site and making it relevant for critical patients is on…

Finally, it’s the zeal of the volunteers that keeps you going. There’s always one bunch up and working, responding to calls at any point in the day and night. That’s the highest order of responsibility that we rarely see in normal times…

In between, discussions erupt around whether we should focus on “our” work of providing services OR raise our voices in protest of the massive corruption and mishandling…

This goes on. But is this enough?