By Prakash Waghmare
In India, Covid-19 (Corona) pandemic’s second wave hit hard suddenly and with the force of a tsunami. The country was caught off guard and ill prepared for the toll it took. All the focus of the grave situation revolved mainly around the urban areas and rural-tribal areas received scant notice.
There was a reason too for this apathy towards the rural community. Last year, the villages had fared quite well in arresting the spread of corona, by and large, and the majority of folks there had remained immune to it.
As India entered well into Yr.2021, the situation changed. According to Bajrang Bagra, the CEO of ‘Ekal Abhiyan’ (federation of all ‘Ekal’ organizations), “the serious aspect of the pandemic, this time around, is that it has struck even in the countryside where, unfortunately, the medical infrastructure and facilities are not as strong as they are in the urban areas”.
In rural India, ‘Ekal’ (as ‘Abhiyan’ is popularly known) has the most wide-spread network of volunteers and collaborators in the deepest corners of villages. It has firm presence and unwavering support in over 100,000 villages. That’s why Ekal has undertaken a comprehensive well-coordinated offensive against the pandemic, with support from its allied organizations.
Last year, Ekal’s successful initiative against covid was based on self-monitoring, self-reliance, education and cooperative-exchanges. It included a wide-spread awareness campaign about the hygiene, social distancing, food distribution, mask-making and restrictive movements.
The new offensive has not only incorporated all these steps in the direct-action roadmap, but also, has started a proactive counter campaign against the misinformation about the vaccine, the danger posed by covid and voodoo-treatments.
With extensive reach well beyond its footings, Ekal has mobilized tens of thousands of its school teachers for this information campaign. ‘Ekal-Arogya (Health Foundation)’ has established 24-hr Telehealth lifeline (# 011 41236457) for professional medical counselling. According to Ramesh Shah, Ekal Global Coordinator and an advisor to Ekal-USA, ‘Board of Directors’, “currently more than 350 ‘National Medico Organization (NMO)’ Doctors in India and some in U.S. are manning the helpline every day”. In addition to various empowering projects for the economic sustainance of the village folks, Ekal has earmarked one million dollars just for covid relief.
It is converting its 29 ‘Gramotthan Research Ctrs’ and ‘Integrated Village Development Ctrs’ into corona isolation camps, fully equipped with Oxygen concentrators, PPE kits, Oximeters and basic medicines. After making provision for hundreds of beds it is dispensing Ayurvedic, Homoeopathic and Allopathic medicines as deemed necessary. According to Arun Gupta, Chairman of Ekal-USA ‘Board of Directors’, “Ekal has lost many volunteers to Covid and so Ekal has created an endowment fund to the tune of $500,000 - $1Million, as an assistance to their families.
It is supplying 15,000 Oximeters and infrared thermometers to its ‘Arogya Sevikas’ (healthcare workers). It has created resident facilities for thousands of its city volunteers, throughout its reach. Ekal intends to extend emergency medical services to 5 million people. It is running vaccination Centers in collaboration with the local govt. These efforts are being spear-headed by Dr. Mukul Bhatia in India and Dr. Rakesh Gupta in U.S., with support from numerous healthcare specialists.
In this national crisis, Ekal is working alongside various organization like ‘Sewa International’, ‘AAPI’, ‘Seva Bharati’, ‘Mission Oxygen’ and few others. It is assisting many humanitarian groups who have collected funds for Indian pandemic but have no proper distribution network to dispense them. Ekal is appealing nationally and internationally to its donor-base to contribute to its various relief-work packages.
As of now four donor-packages have been floated – Diagnostic Kits $50/village; Telehealth Lifeline $500/30 villages; Supporting Covid Ctr $5000/Ctr; and Supporting Covid Victim $5,000/Family. Ekal’s youth groups are also very active in creating awareness and raising funds for this unprecedented fight against the pandemic. One example - Arnav Enaganti from Michigan has taken an initiative to raise funds for Oximeter, PPE Kits and Oxygen concentrators. Come what may, Ekal is confident that with everyone’s help, we can defeat this deadly virus, once and for all. Please support this noble cause and donate generously at www.ekal.org