TIRUCHY: Nikhil (name changed) was all alone and dazed at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital (MGMGH) on Thursday. He was to go back to Bengaluru but had to postpone it as he had symptoms of COVID.
When he visited MGMGH, they directed him to a COVID care centre as he had mild symptoms. With no vehicle on hand and no ambulance available, he spotted an auto inside the hospital. It had 'COVID Help Auto' written on it. He approached the auto and was surprised that the driver was willing to take him to the centre, despite him being tested positive.
Two auto drivers -- Karthi and Mani -- have been ferrying patients from and to MGMGH and other hospitals since the last week. While most people are afraid to come near positive patients, these two friends have decided to help those in need.
"I was passing by a private hospital last week and happened to see a person desperately looking for help. He had to take his mother to the government hospital for further treatment. Ambulances would take a while, so I decided to take them to the GH. That mother and son thanked me so much. Such a small effort of mine made such a big difference to them," said 45-year-old Mani.
Karthi says that he's not scared and he has faith. However, his wife and kids are a little scared of him ferrying positive patients.
“I saw that there are less ambulances, as cases are increasing. It’s not possible for ambulances to transport every patient. Patients many times have to be shifted to Covid care centres or other private hospitals. We even take them home after discharge. We don’t charge extra, just take whatever they give. I’m not scared, I trust God,” says Karthi.
Both have lot of responsibilities on them. Karthi has a daughter in college and son who just completed standard 12. He manages to pay his loans and rent for the vehicle by driving daily. They go to the MGMGH atleast thrice a day, to help patients in need.
Mani, a single father, lost his wife just 6 months back. He just hopes to educate his daughter well.
“I’m not scared of Covid, I’ve battled bigger monsters in life. I’m living with a rare disease, which I would not like to name. I just want to help others and be a good example for my daughter. I do take proper precautions, give the passengers handwash, and ensure that they don’t touch anything. It’s important for both of our safety. I make enough to feed my daughter, that’s all that matters,” says Mani.
What keeps them going? – A smile and thank you from the patients.