IRCS Mandi, Himachal Pradesh's 'SERV Sankalp' Program: A Lifeline for the Most Vulnerable
The 'SERV Sankalp' Program being run by IRCS Mandi, Himachal Pradesh in collaboration with the District Administration during the COVID19 lockdown period has proved to be a boon for the most vulnerable sections, such as the elderly and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs). The Mandi District Red Cross Society (DRCS) Branch began training 15-20 volunteers in every Panchayat of the district on first aid & emergency response to natural & man made disasters such as fire tragedies, floods, etc. with support from IRCS NHQ & IFRC. The training was initiated in 2016 & today, a staggering 10,600 SERVs are working tirelessly & selflessly to serve the most needy, in inaccessible hilly terrains across the district.
During the COVID lockdown period, these SERVs have been going door to door in their respective Panchayats to gather information & extend all possible support to any person in need, with a special focus on the elderly & PWDs. They have delivered medicines, food material as well as other essential commodities right at the doorstep of several such people. Not only this, SERVs have also worked in coordination with the Government Departments to resolve bank related as well as pension issues for the needy. When a medicine is unavailable locally, the nodal SERV contacts the DRCS Mandi Headquarters Branch to procure the prescribed medication for the beneficiary. Recently, SERV Dile Ram & the team from DRCS Mandi came to the timely aid of a 98 year old elderly lady, Maltu Devi, who lives in a remote rural area of the district, Dumat Behli. Our team rushed to arrange & reach Maltu Devi with the much needed medicines prescribed to her after traversing a distance of 24 Kms! By providing them with succour during these difficult times, the SERV Sankalp Program has proved to be a lifeline for the most vulnerable sections. We salute & thank our dedicated Red Cross volunteers who have been selflessly serving the most needy during the COVID crisis.
Red Cross Volunteer: An Epitome of Selfless Service
Across the country, staff & volunteers of Indian Red Cross Society have been selflessly serving people in need during the COVID19 lockdown period. They have been doing all they can to support the needy, including the most vulnerable sections, living in the remotest areas of the country.
The story of Damodari Devi is no different. Damodari is a 39 year old woman who lives with her elderly mother in a remote area of Himachal Pradesh. She is disabled & also struggles with severe mental disorders since her childhood. Damodari depends on her daily dose of prescribed medications to uphold her health.
Trouble started mounting when Damodari's stock of medicines started to deplete during the lockdown period. Her mother, Smt. Mathura Devi's frail condition did not permit her to fetch the medicines, available at a distance from their house. Moreover, Damodari could not be left alone at home without supervision. Gradually, Damodari's health began deteriorating with each passing day.
Fortunately, word spread and Red Cross Social Emergency Response Volunteers (SERV) Smt. Kusum Devi & Sh. Amarjeet Singh rushed to her aid and take stock of the situation. These dedicated Red Crossers walked 10 kms to reach Damodari's home, located in a remote rural area. The required medicines were immediately purchased and provided to her.
What's more, IRCS Mandi, Himachal Pradesh went ahead & replenished Damodari's stock of medicines for the coming three months! The family was also provided with phone numbers of volunteers to ensure that they do not have to face any difficulty in the near future. Damodari's mother expressed her pleasure & heartfelt gratitude for dedicated Red Crossers who did not think twice before traveling almost 20 kms on foot to fetch & provide life saving medicines to Damodari, right at her doorstep.
Supporting the critically ill, when it matters the most
The COVID19 pandemic is unlike anything the world has ever experienced before. As countries across the world struggle to contain the outbreak, India implemented a timely lockdown to successfully slow the rate of transmission of the virus and keep its citizens safe. However, in its wake, several people such as those who were traveling or were away from home were left stranded.
IRCS Pune, Maharashtra came to the timely rescue of one such person in dire need of help during the lockdown period.
Natasha (name changed to protect privacy) is a patient of HIV & is registered for treatment in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. In the second week of March, she had come to Pune to visit her relatives, with medicines requisite for the intended travel duration. All pandemonium broke loose when the lockdown was announced and Natasha was left stranded in the city with her stock of medicines depleting everyday. Natasha did not know who to approach for help to replenish her stock of expensive medicines without a doctor's prescription.
When the Red Cross team in Pune was contacted for support, their doctor and staff immediately approached doctors from Jabalpur Government Hospital, requesting them to send her prescription and all related documents over phone so that her medicines could be procured locally. Not just this, Red Crossers reached Natasha at her doorstep with medicines for one month & assured her of all possible help in the future. Natasha, her family and relatives are very grateful to Red Crossers who left no stone unturned to ensure that she receives her life saving medicines on time and does not have to miss even a single day's dosage.
Ensuring timely Medical treatment for the needy
Essential services can't wait. Their availability, or a lack thereof can often turn into a life and death situation for some-one in dire need. Staff & volunteers of Indian Red Cross have been striving to support vulnerable individuals and communities in all ways possible during the covid lockdown period. All efforts have been made to reach the last mile & extend support to those in need. The story of 12 year old Darshini from Dindigul District of Tamil Nadu is no different.
A cancer patient, regular Chemotherapy sessions are a part of her treatment. With all transportation services suspended during the lockdown, there was no way for her parents to take her to Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai for her impending session. The family spent many sleepless nights mulling over a possible solution.
When approached by them, IRCS Tamil Nadu facilitated travel for Darshini & her mother to and from Chennai free of charge, under the JSSK services program. The vehicle covered a distance of more than 1200 Kms to ensure Darshini undergoes the therapy on time. Red Cross ensured that the baby reached Chennai a month later for a successive Chemo session. Darshini's family has expressed their heartfelt gratitude to Indian Red Cross and its volunteers for their invaluable support in saving Darshini's life.
Red Crossers- For Everyone, Everywhere
During the COVID lockdown period, Red Cross volunteers in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh worked with the District Admin. & SARVA volunteers to identify & reach elderly & disabled individuals living in remote areas with medicines, ration & other essential goods at their doorstep.
90 year old Sauju Ram, a native of village Segali, a remote area in the district has been living alone since his wife passed away years ago. Sauju was in distress as he had run out of his stock of prescribed medicines & was unable to purchase more during the lockdown. His married daughter lives in a distant village & could not come to his aid. Further, some anomaly in his documents had been preventing the release of his Old Age Pension for the last few months. The Mandi Red Cross Society came to know about Sauju Ram's situation through Dile Ram, a Red Crosser who had been going door to door to gather all possible information on elderly as well as disabled residents of the village. Dile Ram immediately organized help for Sauju through the District Red Cross Society. His prescription was arranged & medicines were despatched immediately through a SARVA volunteer. Further, the issue with his pension account was also taken up with the District Admin for clearance, post which his pending old age pension for 3 months was delivered to him at his doorstep. Sauju was relieved and grateful to all those working to help people in need during a crisis situation like COVID.
Taking Care of the Elderly
Several vulnerable sections such as the elderly, especially those who live alone have been facing the brunt of the covid lockdown. Recently, staff & volunteers of IRCS Panchkula came to the aid of an ailing 80 year old lady when her son, Mr. Dheeraj Mehta, who lives in Canada approached the local Red Cross for support. Our team was quick to respond & rushed to the lady's residence to take stock of the situation. They immediately contacted the Govt. Hospital to arrange for professional medical support. Soon, the doctors arrived to examine her & prescribe appropriate medicines. In the interim, Red Crossers completed a myriad of pending household chores for the lady. Mr Dheeraj has expressed his gratitude & appreciation for the Panchkula Red Cross team, who have helped save his mothers life.
Supporting the Most Vulnerable
The lockdown in India has certainly been effective in slowing the human to human transmission of the COVID19 virus, but has also inadvertently affected lives of several vulnerable people and communities. It is they who sadly are bearing the brunt of the impact. Indian Red Cross is working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of such people in need. When a 75 year old elderly lady, a resident of Patharkandi, Karimganj, Assam fell severely ill, staff & volunteers of IRCS Assam extended all possible support to her.
Mrs. Manashi Chakraborty has been living alone since her husband passed away years ago. While her health usually does remain unstable, it deteriorated considerably during the lockdown. The thought of being alone and miles apart from her only daughter who lives in Haryana added to her anxiety and impacted her health. Manashi felt that she had nobody to care for her. On being contacted by her daughter, the local Red Cross Chapter back home immediately rushed to Manashi's aid. Not only did they facilitate her medical checkup through the local Health Dept, they also replenished her stock of prescribed daily medicines. The team also assured Manashi & her daughter of all possible support in case need arises. Today, Manashi is doing well & enjoys visits by Red Crossers who regularly check on her.
Blood Donation: A Gift of Life
The Corona pandemic has certainly altered the way we lead our lives. However, it is people who require regular blood transfusions such as Thalassemics & others who are struggling the most to cope with this sea change. Indian Red Cross is leaving no stone unturned to ensure those in need have unhindered access to safe blood, even in the remotest corners of the country. Rana Ghosh, an eight year old is a Thalassemic and a resident of Karuigachhi, a remote area in Tehatta, West Bengal.
During the lockdown, Rana's Hemoglobin dropped sharply below 4, leaving his family sleepless & worried. What made matters worse was the uncertainty of finding blood donors in the lockdown period. On being approached by the boy's family, IRCS immediately reached out to all voluntary blood donors in a bid to motivate them to step forward when it mattered the most & save a child's life.
The relentless efforts of Red Cross volunteers helped facilitate Rana's urgent transfusion on time, thanks to the generosity of 2 blood donors- Sh. Shubha Roy Chowdhury from Chatarpara and Sh. Biplab Sarkar from Debnathpur who readily agreed to donate blood at Tehatta Blood Bank. Today, Rana is fit and healthy and gets his regular transfusions done without any difficulty, thanks to the real heroes of the corona crisis.