The second wave of COVID-19 has affected most of the world, but the extent to which India has been affected is much greater. It is safe to say that rural areas have been affected more than urban areas based on evidence collected during the second wave. The Sunderbans were among the worst affected areas in West Bengal during this second wave due to their remote topography.
Swapnopuron Welfare Society, a non-profit organization working in the Hingalganj and Hasnabad blocks of the Sundarbans, have been making efforts since the beginning of the second wave to bridge the gap between COVID affected individuals and the healthcare system. One of the key efforts of this organization included forming a Rapid Relief Taskforce, which is being led by the teachers of Swapnopuron Shiksha Niketan, a school run by the organization. The functions of the Taskforce are to create awareness, tend to the treatment required by the community members and distribute relief in the community. Stories from several endeavours of the Taskforce have brought forward the extent of the impact Swapnopuron currently has on the community during these challenging times. Not only has the Taskforce catered to the needs of the COVID affected individuals but also have sincerely tended to the medical requirements of some individuals unaffected by COVID who were in dire need of help.
One incident that mainly shows the Taskforce’s dedication took place on the evening of the 10th of June, 2021. The Rapid Response Taskforce members of the Swapnopuron Welfare Society were made aware of a patient from Kumirmari, Gosaba, at 2 p.m., the same day. The patient had undergone leg surgery about 15 days prior. He was around 60 years of age and was suffering from breathlessness; his condition was deteriorating gradually. His oxygen level had dropped down, and he had not slept properly for 11 days. Though he was not someone who had COVID, our team felt the need to assist him. Kumirmari is about 3 hours or a 30km journey from Hingalganj, where our team was located. Crossing the Raimangal River was dangerous as the river was in high tides, and it was a full moon night. Keeping aside all the other priorities the members of our Taskforce, along with two doctors, started their journey at 4.30 p.m. They reached around 6.30 p.m., crossing the river and then taking a motor van, finally reached the patient’s house, where they offered him help. After receiving assistance from our team, the patient finally felt relaxed and slept. His SPO2 climbed back to 90%. The team had to return in pitch dark amidst a rising thunderstorm late in the night, risking their lives.
Pictures of Kumirmari Patient
A similar incident happened on the same day at Mathpara, Tangra, where the patient had COVID and was suffering from breathing problems. After receiving the news, a team from the Rapid Relief Taskforce reached the patient’s house with an oxygen concentrator at around 9 p.m. His oxygen saturation level was 88% when the team started the treatment; it gradually rose to 97-98% in the next 45 minutes.
Pictures of Mathpara, Tangra Patient
Another incident that shows the commitment and devotion of the Taskforce took place at midnight on 11th June 2021. A patient from Dulduli Notuhat was suffering from breathing issues and had contacted the Taskforce for their help. Without worrying about the time and place, a team from the Taskforce took off to assist the individual. They reached the patient’s house at around 2:30 a.m. with an oxygen concentrator and started treating him. They assisted the individual the whole night and left only at dawn. Again like Kumirmari, Gosaba, this place was only accessible by the river, which only made the journey riskier.
Picture of Dulduli Notunhat Patient
These few aforementioned incidents bring out the devotion of the Rapid Relief Taskforce and their dedication to helping vulnerable people in the remotest areas of the Sundarbans. The efforts made by the team have undoubtedly helped several COVID affected patients and patients unaffected by COVID and will continue to do so in the future.