There is a sea of crisis all around, especially after the debilitating outbreak of the Covid second wave. Amid the grim and dreary sea sprouts islands of kindness which keep humanity afloat.
Here is one such tale – a patient in ICU turns saviour for another one in need and help comes in from miles away.
When New Delhi-based lawyer Deepa Joseph learnt that her friend Sijo P Thomas was down with COVID-19, she wanted to make a call to him. The next day, she was surprised when Sijo made a video call from the ICU of a private hospital in Ernakulam, where he was under treatment. The call was to seek Deepa’s help in arranging oxygen for the mother of an acquaintance who was critically ill due to Covid in Delhi.
As social media platforms are flooded with SOS for oxygen, ventilator, and hospital beds, there are people like Sijo who manage support activities even from his hospital bed. Sijo, known among friends as Sijo Everest, was tested Covid positive on April 22. Sijo’s condition worsened after he developed pneumonia and was shifted to the ICU. He has been on oxygen support since then.
Wearing an oxygen mask and surrounded by vital-signs monitors, Sijo made the video call to ask Deepa to help him arrange oxygen for an Idukki-native stuck in Delhi. She was visiting her son. Following Sijo’s call, Deepa, who is the president of the Distress Management Collective, a humanitarian collective, sought help in their group. “We were able to manage it from a member, Saji Philip, who sourced it from a family which offered the oxygen cylinder after the Covid patient there passed away. The oxygen cylinder reached the needy within hours of Sijo’s call,” Deepa said.
Sijo, a Kattappana-based businessman, said he was making the calls discreetly as the hospital staff had strictly warned him against using the phone. However, as Idukki district secretary of Orthodox Christian Youth Movement and charity chairman of 'Friends of Kerala,’ Sijo could not keep himself away from humanitarian activities. “I have difficulty in breath due to lung infection. However, health is improving,” he said.
As part of initiatives of the Facebook group, ‘Friends of Kerala,’ Sijo was active in arranging gadgets to aid online education of poor students during the floods in Idukki. Sijo was instrumental in arranging crowd-supported initiatives to rebuild a bridge across the Periyar in five hours after it collapsed in the heavy rain and marooned around 100 families in the Mlamala plantations in Vandiperiyar, in 2020.
(Jisha Surya is an independent journalist based in Thiruvananthapuram.)