Published: 23rd April 2021
Kerala youth create country-wide SOS virtual platform to aid govt machinery
The CoVolNet- HelpDesk' (Covid Volunteer Network) ensures medicines, vaccines and other necessary materials to the needy
Even as the public health system has been struggling to cope with the staggering number of new COVID infections, a group of volunteers led by a 26-year-old youth hailing from here has started a countrywide Save Our Souls (SOS) virtual network on WhatsApp. CoVolNet- HelpDesk' (Covid Volunteer Network) ensures medicines, vaccines and other necessary materials to the needy.
The help desk group which began functioning on Monday has 110 members so far, including doctors, medical experts, defence personnel, and volunteers from various states. It's publicity is through word of mouth alone. The admin and founder of the group, C S Bharath Govind is a research scholar in New Delhi. His friend Aishwarya Chandran, a Malayali based in the national capital, assists him on this novel mission. Several youngsters from across the country have already joined the group to help the government and people who are at the receiving end owing to the pandemic.
Since the formation of the group on Monday, text messages have poured in. One of the messages from Pune requested Remdesivir for a family member admitted to hospital. However, the request got an immediate reply from a doctor who knew that the source of the medicine was in the group itself. Similarly, many such messages seeking doubts on vaccines and COVID-19 tests are flooding the group. According to Bharath and Aishwarya, this is just a beginning to save many lives during the testing times. We were receiving multiple requests on social media (Instagram and WhatsApp) and we were discussing how helpless we felt, unable to help out all those seeking help. People are frantically seeking help on social media for beds, oxygen cylinders, ambulances, medicines, and food.
Some of our family members and ourselves are simultaneously going through the challenges. There were many resources and people are coming forward with help, but it's all scattered. That's when we decided that we need to do something and we formed the CoVolNet-HelpDesk, an informal volunteer group, with people from various regions and influences across the country, says Bharath. In the group, they are able to collate a lot of information and send it out to people in need. We are able to help a lot of people, but more needs to be done.
The resources are still scattered, unorganised and some of them are old or unverified due to which it takes time, before we can find a legitimate source, says Aishwarya. Bharath was active in SOS activities during the flood in 2018 and 2019 and during the beginning of the pandemic last year. He was also the coordinator of the Inter-Agency Group (IAG) working under the Thiruvananthapuram district administration.