05 May 2021  |   04:00am IST

Aldona’s anti-COVID army is fully armed to deliver

Ordinary people have stepped up to help their fellow beings and this is very apparent in Aldona. People involved in the efforts talked about their experience
Aldona’s anti-COVID army is fully armed to deliver

Team Cafe

This catastrophe has changed the perception one had of life. The rhythms of the seasons, the gentle tugs or the not so gentle ones have all been now turned up­side down. Records will now be recorded as pre and post covid. This time has been marked by heartbreaking sadness due to families being decimated by death. This is also the time when people have stepped up to be counted, by people who have decided to spend their time helping people who need assistance. People who decided to keep their concerns aside and help their fellow beings. 

Cecil Pinto from Aldona is a busy man. A well known activist amd proud Aldonkar he has done his bit for the people in the area by highlighting their concerns and importantly bringing people together who could help. He highlighted the require­ments of an elderly lady from Quitla who needed her insulin medicine to be picked up from the PHC every month. Earlier her neighbours or relatives used to manage it in case she could not. But then Covid changed everything. For a few months’ volunteers used to collect and deliver the medicine until they got busy with other things. She kept asking Cecil for help but his hectic time-table did not allow him to help. That is where Amarnath Panjikar stepped in. He said “I am part of a political party but for me I responded as a human being. We have to be more human. We focused on helping out government hospitals. We are trying to deliver oxygen cylinders to needy and critical patients. We step in and provide it free of cost. We respond to each and every request. We help provide medicines, groceries, oxygen. Last time was about food this time it is largely about medical assistance. The requirement for oxygen is continu­ous. We are taking care of the old people around Aldona. People have my number and we try to help and will continue to help. It is our service to humanity.’ And yes speaking about the elderly woman from Quitla, he has till date every month picks up the medicines himself from the PHC and drops them off to her. Today the PHC is packed with people being tested, vaccinated and treated. A very dangerous place to be. Yet Amarnath never fails to deliver. 

Then there is Renuka Figueiredo, a healthcare professional who along with friends and a whole lot of volunteers delivered food to migrants during the first wave. They delivered sacks of rice and other foodstuffs. Since her father had a pharmacy she would also provide medicines. Another friend would manage the finances. They coordinated with Rosto which was raising funds. Now in this lockdown she was not that involved because of her job with a Goa based healthcare company. She however said by being involved in the industry she was being helpful. 

Amar Mandrekar was also very helpful. He helped ensure government provisions reached everyone. Savio Figueiredo and his team kept the pharmacy running normal hours despite being at high risk themselves. 

Oldrin Pereira who did not respond to several phone calls helped get provisions into the village when nothing was coming in. 

Beverly Fernandes is a busy finance professional who returned to Goa after spending more than a decade in Dubai. She is a very busy person and keeps a tight schedule but she was determined to do her bit in the second phase. She start­ed off by contacting Shruti Chaturvedi who has been doing a great deal of work by crowd funding and ensuring medicines and food went to people in need. She revealed that she had received several calls from Aldona. Beverly said “We got cracking, set up a team of 20 volunteers who had specific tasks. 4 people were in charge of verification, another four on the ground. People offered their vehicles to deliver requirements to people.” 

They also had a coordinating team with the Health Centre at Aldona and did sessions with the head of the centre Dr Priti Naik. She talked about how to get the vaccine and they also conducted ground studies. The group learned the seniors were very focused on getting the vaccine but there was a thin segment of seniors who were worried if their pre existing condition like an open heart surgery could cause problems. Dr Naik in her ses­sions assuaged their fears. The seniors she said were doing all the critical thinking and steering them forward. The need for oxygen was critical and was being moni­tored continuously. Thankfully she said they were getting a lot of volunteers. 

For Gunjan Haldankar it has been an experience he will never forget for the rest of his life. Currently working with volunteers, he has been part of a team that is helping generate funds, getting oxygen cylinders. He said “Everyone was given their responsibility and now having gained experience in the first wave we can tackle the demands better. Everything is being done properly. We all have our time slots when we work. 

Another set of concerned citizens met the Sarpanch Pranesh Naik and asked for a voluntary village lockdown which the Panchayat members unanimously agreed to. When the CM declared a lockdown the next day that was not necessary but what is important is that the Panchayat members are also open to suggestions and are proactive for the good of the village. There are plans being made for an emergency transport vehicle, oxygen cylinders etc. New volunteers are coming forward. Funds and resources are being offered by people who cannot directly volunteer. 

It is gratifying to see people stepping up to be counted. These are people who are very busy and live ordinary lives but have found the time for work they will not get any financial reward. The concern for the welfare for one’s fellow beings is still important for a lot of people and that is certainly gratifying to note.


Iddhar Udhar