The Covid-19 pandemic posed the most challenging of times for the whole world and at the same time revealed the best of humanity. Communities came together to support each other like never before. As millions were pushed to extreme poverty and misery due to the sudden lockdown and loss of livelihood, real life heroes stepped out to bring succour to the hapless. They provided food, medical aid and even brought many back home from the alien lands. TNIE salutes these heroes who helped the less fortunate face and survive the pandemic.
Cuttack-based industrialist Avinash Khemka tried to ensure that helpless migrants returning home along NH-16 after the lockdown do not go without food. With support from Cuttack Police, he provided cooked meals and packaged drinking water since April 16. Moved by the images of the hungry, tired migrants, Avinash formed teams of his company staff and initially provided at least 1,000 packets of cooked food along with packaged drinking water to all those travelling through the NH. As the reverse migration increased, so did the number of cooked meals and water. He arranged transport for more than 100 distressed migrant workers during the lockdown.
Doctors, health personnel
The men and women in white and blue coats and gowns put themselves on the line to defend humanity from the deadly unknown and unseen enemy called coronavirus. Odisha was no different. When the State was engulfed by the dark clouds of the virus, doctors, nurses, paramedics and health workers professionals stood up to the task. Despite little knowledge about the highly infectious disease that had brought the entire world to a grinding halt, and the high risks involved, they did not back-off. They worked non-stop day and night for weeks together as patients began to flood the hospitals. Many of them got infected and even lost their lives, but the unrelenting saviours proved to be the ultimate barrier between the people and the virus. Along with 8,023 doctors, 4,014 Ayush practitioners and 8,296 staff nurses, 8,296 laboratory technicians and pharmacists, 1,144 MBBS, AYUSH and nursing students, 7,236 clinical staff, 4,900 ambulance drivers and support staff, 1,35,820 ASHAs, Anganwadi workers and ANMs, 500 counsellors, 753 veterinary doctors, 136 veterinary paramedics and 2471 volunteers were engaged for Covid-19 management in the State. They apart, hundreds of doctors and medical staff in general healthcare institutions from PHCs to the medical colleges worked all through the pandemic risking their lives to provide treatment to the ill and suffering. The medical professionals and workers are the ‘Persons of the Year’.
Odia actor Sabyasachi Mishra turned a messiah for thousands of helpless people stranded in different parts of the country. Responding to distress calls and messages on social media, he made arrangements for bringing them back to their native places in the State. He facilitated the travel of around 1,500 people during the lockdown and post-Unlock, the actor has been helping people in distress by arranging funds for medical treatment, facilitating travel and accommodation. He is also supporting livelihood generation activities for many.
Mountaineer Nilachal Parida gave up on his dreams to climb Europe’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus and contributed his bit to help people deal with the pandemic. He started selling vegetables near Delta Chowk in the last week of March to raise money for the Covid relief funds of the State and Central governments and support his family. Nilachal also helped senior citizens in the Capital City by delivering vegetables to them free of cost throughout the lockdown period.
For Elders, Ajathus
A group of 100 volunteers of Silver Age Foundation started an initiative to provide support to senior citizens during their self-isolation period. Local volunteers helped them by facilitating supply of essentials, medicines and payment of utility bills. The organisaton also helped them overcome loneliness by calling them up at regular intervals and providing them materials to pursue hobbies. Similarly, founders of Ajathus Software, an IT firm, Girish Prasad Sahu and Janmejay Mohapatra launched a helpline number and a non-profit portal on March 23 through which the elderly and vulnerable could order essentials and medicines during the lockdown.
Murli Mohan Acharya, Imtiaz Khalifa
Landlords Murli and Imtiaz, belonging to Berhampur and Rourkela respectively, waived off house rents of their tenants during the lockdown. Murli, a former FCI manager, had given out a portion of his house on rent to 12 families, mostly street vendors who lost their livelihood to the lockdown. Considering their situation, Murli relaxed the house rent and provided each of them a bag of rice and dal. Imitiaz, who runs a garment store, has rented out his house at Idgah lane of Ward 18 to five persons who eke out living by driving vehicles, tailoring and selling balloons. When the tenants ran out of work during the lockdown, he decided to waive off the rent.
The 57-year-old farmer of Kuruda village under Basudevpur block in Bhadrak district distributed free vegetables to the rural populace when they were reeling under the lockdown. Immediately after the lockdown in April, she distributed 50 quintal of vegetables in 15 villages under five panchayats. Accompanied by a group of volunteers, Chhayarani moved around in a van with packets of vegetables which were distributed at the doorsteps of villagers. Chhayarani also distributed milk among the villagers and police personnel deployed in lockdown duty when the local dairy society was closed.