New Delhi: Bollywood singer Mohit Chauhan, through his NGO Nivesh and its initiative Project Bajrangi, is working to procure and supply life-saving equipment like oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders and oximeters to COVID-19 patients, frontline workers, their families and others in need. They are currently raising funds via crowdfunding on Donatekart.
Asked what made him come up with this COVID-19 relief campaign, the singer told IANSlife that 'Project Bajrangi' comes from a space of his personal loss.
"We had a civil work contractor by the name of Bajrangi Maurya. A wonderful man, full of integrity, honesty, discipline and polite to the core. Bajrangi had been working with us on a contractual basis overseeing the renovation of our house for close to two years now. He was not keeping well and after we insisted for a COVID test - one evening he called to say he had tested positive. He said he'd taken the medicines and would be home. Next evening around 6 p.m. he called to say he was feeling unwell and needed a hospital because his oxygen levels were dropping. That's when we first realised how much pressure Delhi hospitals were under," he said.
As they started looking for a hospital, they figured every hospital was full. "Panic struck us too. We asked our friends who we thought could help. They tried what they could and with the help of DCP South, Mr Atul Thakur we did find him a bed in one of the hospitals. At about midnight, oxygen at the hospital finished and we again started looking for another place. This went on the entire night."
When a bed could finally be arranged in the morning in Faridabad, "news arrived that Bajrangi had finally left for home after finding nothing anywhere and he had passed away a little after reaching home in Sangam Vihar. That news shook us. With Bajrangi gone we were left shocked and defeated. Already through our friends we were trying to help people get access to medical care."
Chauhan said that they then started a small SOS group for helping COVID patients. The group includes common friends, his wife, her sisters, and their friends. Together they source out what is needed by people and things that requests come in for.
"Since the second wave started, our house sounds like a COVID call centre with phones ringing non stop. This is such a sensitive time and we want to do everything we can to help, but we also want to do it with people who are trustworthy and transparent. This is when we decided to start a fundraiser on Donatekart called Project Bajrangi so that we could help as many people as possible. In the past few days, we have been able to help people get oxygen cylinders, concentrators, N-95 masks, oxymetres and sanitizers purely as donation through Donatekart's platform. It's heartening to see people coming forward to help. We are also helping frontline workers in Delhi Police and hospitals and other needy people," informed Chauhan.
The singer has also been amplifying SOS requests via his Twitter handle.
His NGO Nivesh has been actively helping people and animals since the beginning of the pandemic. They have also been feeding more than 150 stray animals in Delhi every day, installed more than 100 drinking water pots and food bowls across various locations in parks, and provided medical treatment to the wounded.
What are his thoughts on COVID-19 heroes who are working online and offline? Is this humanity coming together to save itself?
"I think it's a great thing. If you are human there is no way you can not be affected by the tragedy that has struck us. Everyone I spoke to has a personal story of loss to narrate. When we are done with this wave, we'll find it difficult to count the number of lives lost and the families destroyed. The post pandemic world will need serious hand holding. We'll have to help people with mental health issues because this pandemic will leave us all emotionally and mentally battered.
"So, right now when the pandemic is at its peak, we need ordinary people like you and me to do all we can to help others. I've seen so many people come forward and donate to our fundraiser on Donatekart. Project Bajrangi continues to receive a lot of support, and that gives me hope, seeing ordinary people coming together and helping each other. There are people who have helped save lives in hospitals that you'd never hear about. This is a raging storm. And in a storm there is only one way you can get past... by holding hands and walking together."
One can donate to the NGO and Project Bajrangi initiative on Donatekart.