The second wave of Covid-19, marked by a rise in cases and mounting pleas for help, has no doubt hit a lot of us closer to home. But hope is not lost! In the face of all difficulties, some BYJUites have gone above and beyond to aid relief efforts, proving the old adage true. Not all heroes wear capes!
These incredible individuals, rising above the call of duty, have shown what it truly means to put the community first. And, during adversity, to lead by example.
Our latest series, #CovidHeroes is a nod to these BYJUites as they continue to bolster our efforts in safeguarding the health of the BYJU’S family.
Heera Jaan Shaik, a Senior Business Development Manager at BYJU’S, tells us the emotional journey that prompted him to get actively involved in COVID relief work.
“After testing positive for Covid-19, my mother had to be hospitalised last year,” he recalls. “At around 2 am, in the pouring rain, I was sitting outside the hospital. And it suddenly struck me. I had to spend lakhs to get my mother treated. What will become of people who cannot arrange that kind of money? How will they get the treatment? At that moment I made a decision to help those who were struggling during the pandemic.”
While it might have been an emotional encounter that kickstarted the efforts, Heera’s endeavour soon transcended into something bigger.
“Back in college, I used to be part of an NGO called The Active Indian,” he shares with us. “The collective had around 100 students who organised awareness programmes, cleanliness drives, and fundraisers. As part of my COVID relief initiative, I decided to get a few of them onboard, and created a WhatsApp group to respond to SOS calls.”
The problem, as he explains, wasn’t that people were not getting help. They were just not getting the help they needed on time. People would share all these SOS messages on their timelines, but they rarely made an effort to call up someone they know to actually provide the help. “That was one loophole that we observed in this system,” Heera quips.
Initially, just over 20 of his friends got together for the cause. They would discuss all the help requests that they came across in the group. While a few of them would work on verifying the leads, the others would start getting in touch with the authorities to arrange for the requirements.
Heera’s WhatApp group of 20 is now a pan-India collective with over 250 active members – thanks to Shaik Javeed, a fellow BYJUite. After coming across Heera’s work, it was Javeed who suggested they tie up with Hyderabad-based NGO, People Helping Children (PHC). A BDA at BYJU’S, Javeed has been an active member of PHC as the Program Lead since 2018.
PHC was founded to help with the education of underprivileged children. But now, its focus is COVID relief. One of the main initiatives of the collective is identifying people who need blood for COVID treatment. They will then connect them to those who are willing to donate it.
Elaborating on their process, he adds, “There are people who want to donate blood but don’t know how to go about it. We make posters for people who are in urgent need with their location, blood type and other details. We share it across platforms so that if there’s someone who wants to donate, they will know where to go.” Besides this, the collective also raises funds to acquire oxygen cylinders and other expensive medicine to help those who can’t afford it.
There are a few other BYJUites as well, who have joined forces, to support those who are struggling. One of them is Arif Ali, a Lucknow-based Training Manager who tells us that he vowed to help people after going through this ordeal himself.
“I was affected with COVID last year but thankfully, I recovered. That’s when I started thinking about my privilege. There are people out there who don’t have access to social media. They can’t even use the internet to find what they want. So I voluntarily started sharing and responding to these messages that I came across. And very soon, I realised that every few minutes that I spent on this, made a difference.”
Having already been part of two other foundations in his city, Arif joined PHC earlier this April. He shares that even if he’s in Lucknow, the NGO makes it possible to help those who are in different parts of the country. However, the initiative isn’t restricted to providing people with medical aid.
“Recently, we assisted with the adoption process of children who had lost their parents to COVID. We came to know about a three-month-old and a six-month-old baby who needed care. So we took it up, worked closely with the concerned authorities, and were able to arrange immediate child care for them,” Arif shares, adding that he uses his weekend, after-work hours, and any free time in between to help those in need.
These times, as challenging as they are, drive home an important lesson around people and the culture of community involvement. The BYJUites, who have gone above and beyond to raise funds, arrange for food, and get timely treatment for people, tell us that if you have the will to help, there is in fact a way to go about it.
Heera pitches in, “We don’t have to put in our entire day. Sometimes all it takes is a single reply to a message. You take ten more minutes, and you can probably make sure that the person gets the help they need.”
Thanking his colleagues for what they have done for him, he further adds, “What started as a small community of friends has gotten quite big now. And at work, my colleagues and managers have been so supportive, especially my AVP. They stood by me when my family was going through a tough time by constantly checking on me and offering help. And now, I make it a point to do the same with my team.”
These BYJUites, with their samaritan spirit, are leading the way during this unprecedented time. While with their valiant efforts, they offer hope to those who are struggling, they also remind us that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted!
A passionate writer and a compulsive photographer, Fathima is fascinated by people and their stories. Besides her brief stint in advertising, she's worked over four years as an art and culture journalist where she’s written extensively on music, theatre, and films. In love with cameras, colours, and compositions, she likes to watch life one frame at a time and hopes to tell stories the best way she can.
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