Cremating unclaimed bodies to providing food, Bathinda volunteers fight covid-19
From distributing food to washing hospital linen of patients at state-run isolation and quarantine facilities, the team, from diverse professional backgrounds, has been associated with district administration for four monthsUpdated: Aug 02, 2020 19:56 IST
Bathinda Sonu Maheswari, 39, is a known name in the city for cremating unclaimed bodies since 2003, with the help of volunteers of Noujawan Welfare Society (NWS), an NGO he founded the same year. Undeterred by the pandemic, the NGO has also cremated bodies of six covid-19 patients in the district to date. Maheshwari, who runs a fresh juice and shake outlet at Kikar Bazar in the city, says, “Volunteers are our strength. We are contributing the best we can.”
From distributing food to washing hospital linen of patients at state-run isolation and quarantine facilities, the team, from diverse professional backgrounds, has been associated with the district administration for four months. On Sunday, volunteers donated blood.
“Our team follows medical protocol. By donating blood, we intended to convey that all stakeholders can contribute,” said Sukhpreet Singh, a key member. The NGO receives money and dry ration from Bathinda residents, and cooked meals for 300 on Sunday.
“In April, district health authorities were in a quandary as the staff was reluctant to wash hospital linen. After SDM Amarinder Tiwana and tehsildar Sukhbir Brar broke the taboo by washing linen, NWS helped. Our volunteers are doing it every Sunday,” Sukhpreet adds.
Volunteers said wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), while carrying bodies from Guru Gobind Singh Medical College in Faridkot was exhausting and dealing with sweat was a major challenge. “The administration provides us PPE kits. We have to wear these for four-five hours from transporting the body till the cremation. Wearing the PPE has helped us appreciate our health workers,” he added.
Deputy commissioner B Srinivasan said NWS volunteers were available round-the-clock for any duty related to covid. “It is the faith of local citizenry that NWS gets the support to provide quality food to patients thrice a day, with tea and milk etc. Regular monitoring of diet that the NGO prepares and supplies shows it to be satisfactory,” he added.