A call to a 14-year-old, who was at home while his mother was battling Covid, is what broke down Delhi-based interior designer-architect Seetu Kohli. As she struggled to continue helping many fight the deadly virus during the horrific second wave of the pandemic, Kohli recalls this one phone call that’s still fresh in her mind, and adds, “When I called up this boy, he was so composed, brave and aware that it just broke my heart. I cried the whole night!”
Sharing another incident, Kohli says, “The son survived and the mother didn’t.” Therefore, to bring her composed self back wasn’t an easy task, but Kohli had no choice since she had resolved to help as many as she could. “I realised what was happening, and that it was getting out of hand for a lot of people. People were helpless, and on the streets,” says Kohli, who had created a WhatsApp group with volunteers from across India and even overseas, to help people with whatever they required. “A lot of people I knew were keen to help. So one evening, I posted on Facebook that I want to make a WhatsApp group to help with Covid relief work. We soon created a Covid helpline, and had 170 people working with us in just three to four days,” she adds.
This team tackled many a challenges. And talking about one such incident, Kohli says: “One day, a neo-natal hospital in Kailash Colony, which had premature babies, ran out of oxygen. There were about 12 infants. I was close to that place, read the shout out and organised the oxygen cylinders. They went on time because luckily, I had asked for a study desk to be brought from my office to my home and a tempo was standing right outside. So the cylinders were there in 15-20 minutes, and those people who received them were so thankful. God also helped us in a big way.”
It was, however, not easy to deal with the sentimental upheaval that came with this noble move. “It was an emotional turmoil. I pulled up a lot of inner strength. There were people dying and we were looking for oxygen. There were no beds available,” she recounts the harrowing time, and adds, “It’s the gratitude, smile and hope of people who survived that kept us going! While there was a lot of misery, there was a lot of hope as well. “
Ask if the anticipation of a third wave is making her apprehensive, and she says, “People are bringing it upon themselves and it breaks my heart to say that are we going to help the same people. I know we will do what we have to do, and we are better prepared. Last time, we had no experience, nobody had seen anything like this ever in their lives.”
Author tweets @anjuri