Initiatives include a Covid Resource Center run by AYUDH (our youth wing) that connects patients with medical treatment and supplies, two ambulances providing free service, and food and provisions for 1,000 impoverished families in and around Faridabad. The city is where the second branch of Amrita Institute for Medical Sciences (Amrita Hospitals) is under construction.
Swami Nijamritananda shares his personal experiences at this unimaginably challenging time:
In Endless Darkness, Light a Lamp and Move Forward....
Though the world seems to be enveloped by darkness, the Covid situation having cast a pall of gloom, still calamities have a way of bringing out the best in humanity, too. In normal times people restrict their munificence to a good extent to their loved ones and those that are known to them.
But calamities such as what the world is facing now seem to wipe out all boundaries, and people as a whole come to help in whatever way they can. The world, for some time at least, becomes Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum—One World Family.
Though it does also underline a sad fact that it takes a calamity to awaken the Humanity within humanity, spirituality ever has been about becoming a human being, in the true sense of the word.
When Amritapuri was being established in the eighties, Amma had said, "...so that the world may not forget that selfless service and love are still a possibility in this world."
Since then, the ashram has been engaged in endless service activities in all spheres of life, and in alignment with that vision, Amma has established several initiatives to face COVID-19:
· Donation of funds to the Indian central and state governments to support their actions
· Amrita Hospital in Kochi, Kerala is at the forefront of care to Covid patients
· Numerous self-help groups (SHGs), who already lived in poverty, have been given special support
· Amrita, our university, has come up with many studies and inventions to help in battling the Covid situation
Here in Delhi, AYUDH, our youth initiative, is running a Covid Resource Centre to help patients and their families throughout India find medical care and supplies. This includes locating hospital beds, oxygen and cylinders, medications, and blood donations from Covid survivors whose plasma now contains required antibodies.
The volunteers have been literally working around the clock gathering and verifying the needs and resources. They then connect the two together to provide direction and relief to those who call out in distress.
A Doctors Helpline is also being put in place, as many people do not know what to do and when. At times, too much misinformation spreads on social media platforms, and rather than helping, causes more problems.
Amma has asked us to reach out to villages neighboring Faridabad, where our second Amrita Hospital of 2000+ beds is under development. (It has been delayed by the pandemic and the lack of labor that it has caused.) We provide a regular supply of food and provisions to about 1000 families. Sri Rajesh Nagar, the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the area, inaugurated the project in the presence of representatives from some of the villages.
We have also dedicated two ambulances in service to the people there. In addition to the obvious need for oxygen supplies, they also have equipment for electrocardiograms (ECGs), blood pressure (BP), pulse, and Oximetry (which measures oxygen saturation levels in the blood).
Meanwhile, the ashram in the neighborhood of Vasant Kunj in New Delhi has been a Center of Hope for many poor families there. Over the years, we have been providing classes to about a hundred children, alongside helping their families with all their needs—be it medical, food, education and its required fees, clothing, etc. Despite COVID-19, this has continued and we are especially providing medical aid and advice to the families.
We are also helping people in a nearby housing colony for low-income families. Right now, they have about 300 Covid patients and have seen 24 deaths in the last month alone. We are setting up a primary health care center within the premises and are assisting them with oxygen and other medical needs.
Other than this, we have established a good network with many hospitals and are helping people to get admitted, as on their own, patients find it almost impossible to do so. As well, oxygen production machines (PSA) are nearly not to be found, so we are trying to source them from outside the country. Many volunteers are working for this and also finding oxygen concentrators from abroad.
Even as I write this, I receive a call from a man in distress, saying that the doctors are moving him into the ICU…. An unending series of such calls at all times—calls of suffering, calls of pain—the afflictions not only of those who have the disease, but also those who lose dear ones.
An image that does not leave my mind is that of an elderly woman, herself a Covid patient, running out onto the street to beg passersby to take her to an oxygen generating facility. She received a call from the hospital caring for her ailing husband that they were running out of oxygen and had no reserves. There was no one to help her at that time, but maybe we can help the next such person.
In one of Amma's anecdotes, there is a question raised by a Guru, "When do I know that night has ended and day dawned?"
Many disciples give different answers, all connected to what they can see in the increasing light of day. Then the Master says, "When you see your brother in every man and your sister in every woman, know then that a new day has truly dawned."
Let us all pray for this, for when we are truly one, then there is no situation we cannot surmount together.
Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings everywhere be happy
Photo 1: AYUDH Delhi and Amrita Hospitals organize delivery of food and essential items to families in need.
Photo 2: The pandemic meant a small inauguration event for the activities in Faridabad. Swami Nijamritananda Puri led the event.
Photo 3: Provisions for people in Faridabad and some of its surrounding villages.
Photo 4: Teams share info with people about how to access medical care and oxygen supplies.
Photo 5: Two ambulances have been deployed to provide service to families who cannot afford to pay the fees.
Photo 6: Alongside delivery of essential supplies, AYUDH runs a Covid Resource Center to provide info and connect patients with medical treatment.