THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A team of young volunteers are aiding the people of Kunnathukal, a border panchayat in the capital, to tide over the Covid-19 crisis, by helping patients and people under quarantine with essentials and medicines, transporting patients to hospitals, and cremating the bodies of the deceased.
According to G Kumar, team leader and panchayat vice-president, a similar team had functioned in Kunnathukal during the first wave as well. “Most of the volunteers are youngsters, including students, who are members of the DYFI and SFI,” he said.
Besides Kumar, panchayat standing committee chairman Roji and ward member Abin are also members of the team.“We provide many services. However, conducting funerals for Covid patients is the most difficult,” said Roji. The volunteers conduct both cremation or burial of the deadbody, as per the family’s requirement. The cremation takes place at the Santhikavadam crematorium or the public crematorium in Maranalloor.
“It’s not just about physical labour. Many precautions need to be taken while doing this job. We will have to wear the PPE kits for two or three hours under the blazing sun,” said Kumar. According to him, burial is a challenging task because the coffin has to be lowered to a deep grave and placed properly without causing damage.
“We help immediate relatives see the face of the deceased person by helping them source and wear PPE kits,” he said. For the burial, the team hires an excavator to dig a 12ft-deep grave as protocol prescribes. “Well-off families meet the rent expense. For the poor, we arrange it using the donations we receive,” he said.
The team also sanitises public places and Covid patients’ houses free of cost, in addition to arranging free transportation for two SSLC students — a Covid-infected boy and a girl in quarantine — to the examination centre.
Vins Kumar, Kishore, Sijo, Akhil Nechuvadi, Viji Elluvila, Bappu, Jibin, Akhil CV, Sujith, Sam, Prasanth and Sibi are the other members of the team. Occasionally, panchayat president R Ambili joins in as well. When compared to last year, the panchayat has been witnessing more infections and deaths this time.