The Sikh foundation, always in the forefront in relief work in Delhi, now has a new Covid care centre
Volunteers with a child suffering from Covid at the care centre; Photo by Yasir Iqbal
There is no chaos or the smell of sickness inside the Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Covid Care Centre, the hospital set up inside Gurudwara Rakabganj Sahib in central Delhi. It radiates order, control, empathy and calm. The facility, set up in 10 days and operational by May 7, now tends to around 70 patients. Each bed has an oxygen concentrator, meals planned by a dietician, and if intensive care is needed, the Delhi government has assured an ICU bed at the LNJP Hospital. The state government has also assigned 50 doctors and 24 nurses to the Covid care centre, who, along with 10 volunteers, tend to the patients arriving from all across the National Capital Region (NCR). A few days ago, a 70-year-old walked into the facility with mild symptoms but he’s now staying there. Gurneet Singh from the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), who is in-charge of the centre, explains: “He doesn’t have anyone to take care of him, so we are looking after him.” The family has either abandoned him or he doesn’t have anyone, laments Singh.
DSGMC volunteers have turned six gurudwaras across the city into places of healing and recovery—offering oxygen, food, free treatment to anyone who needs help. DSGMC president Manjinder Singh Sirsa recounts how he used to get over 5,000 calls a day from people in complete distress when the virus had begun to spread at an alarming rate. “I got calls from people crying—bed dilwa do, oxygen dilwa do…we felt so helpless, we immediately started the oxygen langar seva.” Oxygen was brought in from the neighbouring states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, even cities such as Raipur and Meerut. Volunteers would work at the langar during the day and drive hundreds of kilometres at night to bring in the oxygen. A team of 300 volunteers and 1,800 DSGMC employees have managed to create infrastructure and deliver with clockwork precision. How does one pull off such a mammoth operation where even governments have failed? Sirsa falls back on the power of faith. “Sikhism is not (just a) religion but a way of living. There is a passion for service that comes with faith,” he says.
The committee, through the gurudwaras, has been preparing over 100,000 food packets every day since the pandemic hit last year. Contributions in the form of cash or kind have come from all over the world. “When we decided to open the Covid facility, we had nothing in hand. I started calling and people started contributing,” says Sirsa. One donor provided the beds for the centre, another provided the sheets, concentrators were shipped in from across the world; in fact, the centre has more concentrators than beds now. An oxygen plant has been shipped that will be set up at Gurudwara Bala Sahib in Sarai Kale Khan. The committee is preparing for the third wave as well—in the pipeline is a 100-bed hospital with an ICU facility, including ventilators and BiPAP machines.
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