Tribune News Service
Shimla, May 16
At a time when many people are shying away from cremating their loved ones who died of corona, an NGO has been handling dead bodies at the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital (IGMC) for over a year now.
Shifting the bodies to mortuary, wrapping up the patients declared brought dead and transporting the bodies to crematorium, this NGO, Lok Kalyan Samiti, has been working tirelessly to ensure dignified cremation to even those abandoned by their family members.
“We have been handling Covid dead bodies and patients at the IGMC for almost a year now. We have a small team of 10-12 volunteers. By the grace of god, not a single person has tested positive so far even though we have handled and transported around 450 bodies to crematorium,” said Rajesh Saraswati, the NGO administrator.
The NGO has been working at the IGMC for over a decade now. Before Covid, it was into helping out poor and helpless patients with food, medicine, blood donation, etc. “When the designated staff showed reluctance to handle dead bodies, we offered our services. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, whom we pay just Rs 6,000 per month as honorarium, we have managed to provide this service without any interruption,” said Saraswati.
Even after having seen and handled hundreds of bodies over the last one year, many abandoned by their family members, the volunteers have not allowed fatigue, fear or stress to bog them down.
“Someone had to do this. We consider ourselves lucky that that we got an opportunity to do it,” said Yoginder Rana, a volunteer from Kumarsain. “It’s really painful to see family members not even coming close to the dead. It’s moments like these that motivate us to keep doing what we are doing,” he said.
Most of these volunteers have not been home since last year. “There’s absolutely no time to go home. We have not taken a day off for the last many months. Besides, we avoid going home fearing we might pass on the infection to our family,” said Vijay, who hails from Aani.
With Covid deaths being reported from homes as well, the NGO has started home service free of cost. “In the case of a Covid death at home in MC limits, our volunteers pick up the body and transport it to the crematorium without any charges,” said Saraswati.
While these volunteers are going beyond the call of duty to serve humanity without any grudge or complain, they are pained to see some bodies abandoned by their family members. “Please don’t do this, don’t let fear overpower you. There’s no danger if one takes proper precautions,” said Vimal Thakur, organizing secretary of the NGO.
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