Published: 10th May 2021
This PhD student in Delhi carries O2 cylinders on his bike to help people everyday, despite his mother being hospitalised with COVID
Pritish Menon is a member of the SFI and a PhD scholar at Delhi's South Asian University. He has been actively helping COVID patients for the past few weeks
Ever since the second wave of the pandemic started unleashing its scary side, Pritish Menon has had sleepless nights. He talks to us about a certain evening when he, along with another SFI activist travelled to Delhi's Batra Hospital, carrying a cylinder of oxygen for a COVID patient. "We had to wait for an hour for the doctor and the attender to come out of the ward to collect the cylinder. The doctor told us that he had been attending to a patient on his deathbed. To put it plainly, we were waiting for someone to die, so that another person could live," he says. The next day, the hospital reported deaths of 12 people, owing to oxygen shortage.
He is a PhD scholar at Delhi's South Asian University. A couple of weeks back, he was attending his lectures online, while moonlighting as SFI's COVID helpline volunteer in the evenings. Now that the lectures have been suspended, he says that he dedicates his entire time to COVID relief.
SFI Delhi had set up its COVID helpline in April after the cases started increasing in the national capital. While the initial goal was to provide people with food and essentials, the volunteers later started helping them find hospital beds and ventilators. "Initially we were verifying information for people. But soon, we realised that there is little that they could do with that information. Many of these people have had their entire family testing positive for COVID or were old," he says. That was when a lot of students linked to the SFI started helping out people on the ground.
And it's not as if the families of people like Pritish are spared. He tells us that his mother, who tested positive for Covid, had been hospitalised, after her Oxygen levels dropped. Despite this he's out there helping people out, he says, "Yesterday, we arranged oxygen cylinders for two people."
The SFI volunteers transport the oxygen cylinders either in their cars or bikes. "I have a bike and that is enough to carry a small cylinder," he says. "These are tough times and we are not a country with just borders. There are people who live here. If we don't help each other, then who will?" he asks.