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AYUDH India reaching out across the country in COVID-19 crisis

AYUDH India, part of our youth wing, is finding every possible way to assist people dealing with India’s COVID-19 crisis. Hundreds of volunteers are running medical helplines, locating hospital beds, and organizing supplies and equipment, especially for oxygen. “I cannot forget that one instance when I received a call from a patient’s son and he said, ‘I need an oxygen cylinder. I have already lost my mother and brother to Covid and now my father is also infected and in a very serious condition. I have been running all day and night for oxygen, but have not been able to find any. I don’t even have time to cry,’” explains Neha with AYUDH Delhi-NCR. “After hearing this, I could not stop my tears. We tried from dawn to dusk and finally in the late evening we got an oxygen cylinder. The man was so relieved and happy. He thanked us profusely and said, ‘You’ve saved my father’s life.’” When the second deadly wave reached a new height in April, AYUDH India decided to take action instead of just watching the pandemic ravage the country. Some of the members have recovered from COVID-19, so the experience of the virus brings a deeper perspective to its urgency and allows them to share this with their teams.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we are seeing a lot of suffering around us. The only solace is this opportunity that we have to help people in their difficult times,” shares Divya Rai with AYUDH Bengaluru. “I could always sense a level of comfort from the patient’s family when I interacted on the phone. They would invariably thank us for our concern and all the follow-up—even when their requirements were fulfilled by us or not.” In these times of heavy reliance on digital media, AYUDH members are best positioned to know how to use these mediums effectively. Further, they have earned public trust as a credible source of information and relief due to their swift actions during previous crises and their continuous community service. The all-India crisis helpline connects donors with those in need. Working tirelessly amidst the influx of information available online, the volunteers organize verified data about suppliers and patients and make calls to match them, cutting down waste and misallocation of resources. First, they collect the available resources in their cities, including ventilators, ICU beds, oxygen supplies, medicines and other needed items. Teams for the Covid Helplines are at work in Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

When an AYUDH chapter receives messages from family members or other caretakers of patients, they start by searching within their local network. This includes doctors, other health professionals and government officials. If not resolved quickly, usually within 30 minutes, they convey the help message to the national AYUDH group. Of course, a critical aspect is to verify that the requests are valid and this is diligently done. The messaging system uses social media platforms to amplify the messages, which contain necessary details such as the age of the patient, level of care and items needed. In addition, AYUDH advises the public on how to avoid fraudulent promises to deliver oxygen, fake medicines, and overpricing of supplies. “Please verify before buying any such products from unauthorised dealers,” says a post by AYUDH Delhi-NCR. “Stay Alert. Stay Safe.” This week, the Indian Council of Medical Research removed the use of convalescent plasma therapy from its COVID-19 clinical management protocols. But up until now, AYUDH was assembling a database to record plasma donors and track calls from patients in need of the donation. AYUDH volunteers who had recovered from Covid visited hospitals to donate plasma when there was a blood type match—and they had to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. For example, Sarthak Londhe with AYUDH Pune left for the local YCM Hospital as soon as he received a call for a plasma donation. The patient was on a ventilator and in urgent need of care. The patient recovered and though it is not scientifically known whether the plasma helped or not, the patient’s family expressed their heartfelt thanks to Sarthak and AYUDH, saying that India needs youth like this to fight the current crisis.

For the volunteers overall, it is both inspiring and empowering to see how their efforts are connecting people from different places across the country and bringing solace to thousands, even though they do not know each other. “Due to the ongoing pandemic, it is evident that India’s health sector and the front line workers are enduring a harrowing time. There’s a cloud of panic hanging over the nation,” says a message from AYUDH Hyderabad. “We are a group of responsible young citizens of India who are trying our best to contribute our little bit in this monumental effort to save the lives of people.” From the larger perspective, AYUDH is reaching out to patients and their families through tele-consultation services with medical professionals so people can get expert advice and guidance while remaining at home. This includes connecting doctors with people who have recovered from Covid to ensure they are getting the support they need. For the general public, AYUDH is seeking to help ease Covid-related panic within the community. They organize live group video sessions with doctors to share verified information about Covid, clarify doubts, reduce anxiety and instill confidence. They also post COVID-19 prevention and treatment information in social media, which includes vaccinations, social distancing, mental and emotional wellness, and myths and facts. “I was feeling guilty before starting to volunteer for not being able to physically help anybody during this pandemic. I thank Amma for this opportunity. I overcame guilt,” says Mani Kanta with AYUDH Hyderabad.“Every life is precious. When we see life and death in such close quarters by first-hand experience, the value of life is enriched and fear of death is diminished.”

Reports from AYUDH Chapters

Delhi-NCR

As a constant endeavour to aid those in dire need, we have opened AYUDH Delhi COVID-19 Helpline. Volunteers work around the clock to connect people with the resources they need in the least amount of time. Even though some of our helpline volunteers themselves have been sick due to Covid, we are still going strong and not allowing any of that to affect our helpline operations. We are also using our social media channels to amplify the requirements and connect the resources from all around Delhi-NCR. Our volunteers have been able to cater to various requirements from Delhi-NCR, as well as adjoining states. This encompasses the availability of hospital beds, ICUs, ventilators, free food distribution, oxygen cylinders, medicines, ambulance calls, etc. Our helpline is providing verified information related to the pandemic, including information about vaccinations, social distancing, mental and emotional wellness, health and social community contributions, myths and facts, etc. We are also providing a tele-consultation facility so people in need can get expert medical advice and guidance while they are at home. The urgency of the situation needs a collective effort from each one of us to heal our world and AYUDH Delhi-NCR team is trying its best to serve and help in whatever way possible.

Mumbai

When the pandemic situation in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai took a turn for the worse—with COVID-19 patients and their kin running helter skelter to find hospitals and procure medicines—AYUDH Mumbai swung into action, trying to connect donors and suppliers with those in need. The AYUDH Mumbai COVID Helpline was formed with the aim of providing relief at all stages of the pandemic, as well as raising awareness on how to safeguard oneself from the virus. Apart from attending to and fulfilling hospital requirements, AYUDH is providing therapy and counselling sessions for those who contracted COVID-19. These initiatives are taking place with guidance from expert medical practitioners.

Pune

The AYUDH team formed a separate helpline for the city. The helpdesk gets advice from doctors, medical experts and government officials. Until the Indian Council of Medical Research removed the use of plasma from its COVID-19 treatment protocols, AYUDHians from Pune who had recovered from Covid formed a group of plasma donors. In spite of the difficult situation, they visited hospitals to give plasma to the patients at the right time whenever there was a matching requirement. They achieved this by keeping a database of plasma donors and connecting the donor when there was a blood type match with a patient. AYUDH Pune is also networking with other community groups to provide food to Covid patients who are alone in hospitals or at home.

Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar (working as a unit)

The AYUDH teams in each of these states have networked along with the AYUDH team in Delhi-NCR to form Covid Information Helplines and provide much more reliable and accurate information to those in need. With the increasing number of Covid cases in the Delhi region, there is an acute shortage of beds, oxygen cylinders, plasma, blood, medicines, etc. Many patients have no other option but to go to adjoining areas, so our AYUDH Delhi Covid Helpline works in partnership with these four states to help people across the region in a combined effort.

Kolkata, Durgapur, Bhubaneshwar, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana (working as a unit)

The AYUDH teams created task forces in all these cities and individual groups formed with doctors, other medical experts and government officials to widen the network of knowledge. Within a group if they can’t resolve the query within 30 minutes, it is passed to AYUDH India and gets broadcasted to all states. It is inspiring to see how these efforts are connecting people from different places across the country, as well as bringing solace to thousands even though they do not know each other.

Ahmedabad

The AYUDH team formed a separate helpline for the city. The helpdesk group is getting advice from doctors, medical experts and government officials. They conduct awareness programs about COVID-19, post-acute COVID-19, and post-COVID-19 care. AYUDH Ahmedabad is also coordinating a live interactive session with an expert physician so the general public can ask questions about Covid. It will be in English and regional languages.

Hyderabad

Our AYUDH Covid Helpline spans across various districts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to help us deal with the requirements that are pouring in thick and fast. Our volunteers are maintaining up-to-date resource information pertaining to oxygen cylinders, hospitals, availability of beds, etc. We are keeping a close tab on the government policies and regulations related to the COVID-19 efforts. We are also coordinating with other organizations, such as the Telangana police helpline and other local NGOs, in order to serve people better. This pandemic has also brought out the best of humanity. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the majority of citizens of our country have turned into volunteers, contributing in some way or the other in bridging the gap between the Covid-affected patients and their requirements. Our helpline service also tries to meet requirements related to food supplies wherever possible.

Bengaluru

We as responsible individuals feel that it is our duty to do everything possible in our capacity to help the government as well as people affected by COVID-19. We have set up a COVID Information Helpline to cater to requests from the entire state of Karnataka. Starting from oxygen cylinders to home care to ICU facilities to food donations—we are trying to help in whatever way we possibly can. We are closely following-up with patients to ensure that they are getting what they need. Under the direct expertise of a medical panel, our tele-consultation service is connecting the patients from across our region with qualified doctors over the phone and internet. Amma’s message of love and compassion is our motivating factor. By assuring the Covid-affected person and their families that someone is out there to help them, we are trying to put Amma’s teachings into action.

Kerala

The team created a help desk so people affected by COVID-19 across the state may access verified answers to their queries. The support desk is also functioning from 6 pm to 10 pm to provide Covid-related guidelines for the general public, including vaccine registration, disease prevention, treatment methods, etc. AYUDH Kerala is using their social media to share Covid info with as many people as they can. They brought in doctors from Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS Kochi) to conduct live videos to help educate people about the pandemic. They are also conducting online yoga camps. AYUDH Koyilandi organized the training with the theme of ‘maintaining health by boosting the immune system’. At least a 100 people per day attended during the latest lockdown and were able to find some solace during these difficult times.

Chennai

AYUDHians at Chennai are active in resolving requirements in their community, as well as joining the AYUDH India group. They are working hard to resolve all queries. The AYUDH Chennai team also prepared a one-step guide with verified COVID-19 information. With the help of this collection, it is easy for the public to access all relevant information with just a click.

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