Sikh volunteers battle odds to supply oxygen ‘langgar’ to desperate coronavirus patients

A week ago, a couple had come to us; the husband had tested positive. The hospitals had no space, so they kept circling our office for 3 days until we could provide them with oxygen; I’ve never felt so helpless before.

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Harteerath Singh from Hemkunt Foundation – Photo: Humans of Bombay
By Humans of Bombay | INDIA |

My name is Harteerath Singh from Hemkunt Foundation; my family has been running this NGO since 2003. During lockdown 2020, we’d have about 100 requests for oxygen cylinders in a month. This year that number is 15,000…a day! Unfortunately, we only have the capacity to cater to 4,000 requests; baaki logo ko dil pe patthar rakh ke mana karna padta hain.

The thing is, the privileged people make calls and get themselves a bed somehow; it’s the (ones) below poverty line who are the worst affected by the second wave.

A week ago, a couple had come to us; the husband had tested positive. The hospitals had no space, so they kept circling our office for 3 days until we could provide them with oxygen; I’ve never felt so helpless before.

We’ve had cases where after the patient’s condition got critical, the hospitals would wash their hands off them and leave them at our doorstep – they’d tell us, ‘Ab yeh nahi bachega, we are giving the bed to somebody who has a chance to recover.’ But even though I know that the patient’s chances of recovery are bleak, how can someone leave them to die?

Every day, I witness at least 3-5 deaths; I feel dead from within when I see their families frenziedly make a hundred calls to the crematorium. I mean, people can’t even mourn the death of their loved ones– kaise din aa gaye hain!

Still, I won’t give up. I coordinated with CEOs of big brands and got myself an import-export license. It’s been 2 days – we’ve already started procuring oxygen from abroad independently. We’re the first ones in India to do so and now we don’t have to wait for anybody’s permission.

READ ALSO: Here’s How Gurudwaras Are Helping COVID-19 Patients

Oxygen ‘langgar’ at Ghaziabad gurdwara

Because no government is coming to save us; we the citizens of India have to get out of this together– we’re on our own. Now, I’m considering constructing a PSA plant – it’s an oxygen generating factory and can generate 400 litres of oxygen per hour!

Honestly, this is just the beginning; we are yet to reach the peak. All of us need to act now! We are doing as much as we can–we have centres across the country; anybody can reach out to us directly. If the kids live abroad, we will deliver oxygen cylinders to their parents in India.

I’ve already gotten COVID twice–just a fews weeks ago, I was in isolation. But as soon as I recovered, I got back on the ground. Ab phir se hoga COVID toh ho jaye– it’s one life versus lakhs. We are in this together and we will get out of this together.

(Adapted from Humans of Bombay Facebook page. This article appeared on 29 April 2021)

Help India Breathe– Donate to Hemkunt foundation; 100% of proceeds will go towards helping them, help us breathe. Click here for the link.

 

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