The mudra of service

Some of the members of Samarpana. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The Coronavirus is etching images in our collective consciousness, with painful mordants. Helpless gasps for oxygen is one.

Equally indelible are images of a generous response to this crisis from the common people. Recently, Kadamai Education and Social Welfare Trust was featured in another section of The Hindu for how its members tuk-tuk around Chennai, with oxygen “on tap” in their modified autorickshaws.

Another example: a fundraiser (#helpchennaibreathe) by classical arts-promoting NGO Samarpana, to add to the oxygen-related resources at five Government hospitals in Chennai — Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital; Stanley Medical College Hospital; Tiruvallur Medical College; Kilpauk Medical College Hospital; and the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital, Omandurar Estate.

As Samarpana’s founder Gayathri Suryanarayanan puts it, the fundaraiser seeks to “procure a minimum of 420 oxygen cylinders with regulators and trolleys; procure 240 oxygen concentrators; 500 oxygen masks, 500 NRB masks and nasal prongs. We have identified vendors and estimated a cost of ₹3 crore to procure these materials.”

Emphasising that efforts are being made by the Government to increase these resources, which reportedly include introduction of 12,500 oxygen beds across Tamil Nadu by May 15, Gayathri explains in a telephonic conversation that with the need continually and exponentially rising above the available resources, small contributions from the general public will also make a difference.

“We are ordinary people — neither influencers nor celebrities — and by largely connecting with our friends and family, we have so far managed to pool in nearly ₹50 lakh. As timely help is crucial, we decided to not wait till we reach the target-amount, and instead start buying supplies as and when a sizeable amount is collected. So, for now, we have already placed an order for 200 oxygen cylinders, 500 oxygen masks and 500 NRB masks from a dealer in Mumbai, and these would be delivered by the end of this week.”

Gayathri underlines the millennial character of the group — “Samarpana volunteers are in the 30-and-below age bracket. Artistes make up 70% of this group.”

Last year, during the first wave, Samarpana conducted online shows to raise funds to support daily-wagers and folk artistes. Gayathri observes, “Pandemic-related fundraisers through online shows do not make sense at this point of time due to a few reasons, the primary one being that the second wave has been hard on almost every family, and that includes those of classical artistes as well.”

(For details about the initiative, go to:

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 12:08:09 AM |

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