Surat: Thirty-two-year-old Mythil Thakkar was desperately looking for an oxygen cylinder for his Covid-positive father-in-law, when somebody advised him to contact the Rehman Education and Charitable Trust for help.
“I had never heard of the trust before, but someone passed on their number,” said a relieved Thakkar, adding: “And it worked. I managed to get an oxygen cylinder immediately.”
Thakkar is not only the one this trust has served during the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Arman Bakshu Patel, 32, also received help for his critically-ill, Covid-positive mother. “My mother had Covid for the past 15 days. Three days back, her condition worsened, and she needed oxygen support,” Patel said Saturday, adding that they were able to easily get a cylinder all because of the trust. “Now one cylinder lasts her for about three-four hours, after which we get it refilled from the trust.”
Not just oxygen cylinders, the Rehman Trust has also been helping people in Surat and nearby Kosamba, as well as surrounding areas, access essential drugs for Covid treatment, such as remdesivir injections. Since the second Covid wave hit the country, the trust has ramped up its relief work for the affected, and estimated that in the month of April only, it has provided 300 oxygen cylinders to people in villages around Kosamba.
Trust workers are also helping with the cremations of those succumbing to the virus.
Those connected with the trust, including tempo drivers who ferry the cylinders, said they are moved by both faith and the spirit of humanity to help the suffering during the pandemic. Funding is not a problem, as the trust says they have generous patrons who donate for the cause. This is especially true during the ongoing Ramzan month, said those associated with the trust.
Faith & the spirit of humanity
The Rehman Education and Charitable Trust was set up five years ago by Mufti Mohammad Sarodi, a religious head, in Kosamba — situated 52 km away from Surat — with the objective of providing free education, food and health care services to people from all communities.
With the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the trust has busied itself in helping those affected by the disease.
Mohammad Illyas, a 41-year-old maulvi who manages an orphanage set up by the trust, told ThePrint, “Our religion directs us to help humanity and what better time to do it than the holy month of Ramzan.”
The trust readies the oxygen cylinders for direct installation, before sending them to people. Illyas was readying one such cylinder as he spoke to ThePrint. “We make the cylinders functional and send a mask, ready to be used by patients, so that people do not have to struggle with figuring out how to operate it. Since the number of people seeking help has gone up, in the second week of April we added 30 cylinders to our existing stock of 25-30 cylinders,” he said.
They are also trying to arrange for remedesivir vials for those in need. “Our trust also runs a hospital [which offers subsidised treatment for the poor], where 40 beds have been made available for Covid patients,” added Illyas.
Funding is never an issue, said the maulvi. “We are a charitable trust, so funding is never a problem. But since it is the month of Ramzan, more and more people are donating zakat money [payment made annually under Islamic law for some kind of properties, and used for charitable and religious purposes] to aid us in helping those in need,” he explained.
‘Pandemic not the first time we helped’
“We have always stepped up to help those in need. In 2020, when Surat was flooded, we distributed foodgrains and ration worth Rs 1.6 crore to people. We aim to help the rich and poor alike,” said Sarodi, the founder of the trust.
The trust’s activities during the Covid pandemic have included arranging for the last rites of those succumbing to the disease.
“People are scared of infection, and at times families are abandoning the bodies of departed members. In such situations our boys pick up the bodies, transport them to the crematoriums and hand them over to the undertaker so that their last rites may be performed,” explained Sarodi.
As the number of Covid cases have gone up, everyone in the vicinity has been contacting the trust for oxygen and medicines, he said. “Remedesivir is in short supply, which has led to black marketing. Poor people are finding it difficult to get medicines. We try our best to arrange it for people free of cost. Whenever needed, we also reach out to the collector, Surat, Dhaval Patel, and he has agreed to help us in procuring the medicines.”
The trust’s efforts to help the Covid afflicted is reflected in those ferrying the oxygen cylinders.
One such driver, Mohammad Sajid, who runs a tempo to ferry oxygen cylinders between Ankleshwar and Surat for the trust, told ThePrint, “My trips are getting more frequent as more and more people are getting infected. I am happy to be a part of an organisation that is helping people.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)