In Hyderabad, messaging platform turns helpline

“I am looking for the magic wand to wave and make this all disappear,” says Farida Thampi, Director WWF-India wistfully, echoing everyone across the country. Farida is part of a WhatsApp group that’s doing its bit to help connect people looking for help in this pandemic.

On May 1, a few Hyderabadis from various sections of society found themselves being added to a WhatsApp group called ‘Hyd-T Covid Support Group’ and the intent was made clear almost immediately with the information getting shared, requests being accepted, contact numbers getting verified and latest info being updated. The group taps expertise and assistance from the participants who are from the medical fraternity, media, public service and NGOs and a host of volunteers from different professions.

Says Rubina Philip, a Development Professional and one of the admins of the group, “It all started with a friend’s husband needing an oxygen concentrator about four weeks back and what helped is amplifying these requirements through our network. A lot of people came forward with information and support.”

Adds Vishy Teki Director Communication Resource Center (CRC), “We’ve decided to use our network to provide vital information — availability of beds, ambulances, medicines. As of now, people are responding to it as most of the queries are last-mile efforts.”

Emphasising how dealing with the pandemic hasn't been easy on people, Dr. Purnima Nagaraja, psychiatrist and psychotherapist says that many are succumbing to the stress, the lack of immediate facilities and other social stress like financial, jobs, relationship and others. Purnima who’s active in the group that now has nearly 200 participants, believes the presence of people from all walks of life can help people in distress.

“In the wake of the level of panic, hopelessness and helplessness that is rampant today, we wish to try and make a difference to at least a few people,” she says and adds, “The network we have formed is to try our best to deliver not just reliable, verified quality help to people who need COVID-related services but to also help safeguard their emotional and mental health faculties.’

Farida calls for deeper introspection. “It's amazing how everyone is coming forward to chip in with their time. This is the synergy that we need for any issue that will visit India. Let that spirit be there for non-humans too and our Nature.”

Despite a challenging IT job, Ekta Upadhyay spends all her spare time supporting the group. “This appears to be a drop in the ocean considering the enormity of the situation globally, however, for that one individual receiving this support, it means the world to him/her and we are striving to make that difference collectively.”

One finds teenager Manvi Teki promptly responding to queries on the group with her verified information. On being asked what motivates her she says, “I am doing this because I feel so helpless being at home watching so many people suffering and dying every day in the country. There are college assignments too but when you want to save lives one needs to prioritise their time for more important things.”

The group aims to connect more service providers and volunteers as, Vishy points out, there might be a large jump in fatalities.

“We might also face a challenge like Delhi where crematoriums are under pressure. We need volunteers especially young people who can help others in accessing services. At this juncture, our motivation is to help as many as we can and we see positive responses from those who could benefit from being part of this group. We want them to join as volunteers and take it forward.”

(Those who wish to be part of the group can contact 99596-06667/ 81068-44545)

Watch | What is happening in India's crematoriums?

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 6:04:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/messaging-platform-turns-helpline/article34524252.ece

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