Last year, PT had reported how Nagpur’s good Samaritan, Khushroo Poacha, a Superintendent with the Central Railway (CR)’s Commercial Department (Nagpur), had hit upon a successful strategy during the challenging pandemic times, to feed thousands of poor and needy. Without resorting to support from any NGOs, donations, or even opening a bank account, Poacha used his goodwill and his contacts through social media, to collect food and aid from kind persons across the world.
In 2021, India has been suffocating under the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic, with the oxygen crisis, as the Center and State Govts fall short of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) stocks to treat serious Covid-19 patients. And once again, Nagpur’s Khushroo Poacha has come up with a unique solution – an ‘Oxygen Bank’ – especially for the tribals, urban poor and slumdwellers in the Vidarbha towns.
“I witnessed the critical shortage of oxygen, particularly in small hospitals in moffussil areas with patients just dying anywhere. I tried to help out those who cannot afford oxygen concentrators or cylinders, and there are even few who can afford it but there’s no oxygen available in the remote areas,” Poacha told IANS. He issued a global SOS for oxygen through his social media and charitable organisations last month.
The first to respond were a 17-year-old boy and 3 engineering students who immediately donated 1 oxygen concentrator each, but the pleasant surprise came from ordinary Zoroastrians (Parsis) in Abu Dhabi who crowd-funded 40 top-class Turkish oxygen concentrators and airlifted them to Poacha! “This was like a divine gift… I gave 6 oxygen concentrators to Dr. Ashish Satav’s Mahaan Hospital for exclusive use of the tribals of the remote Melghat area of Amravati; Another 6 for the jungle folk of Yavatmal; and the rest are distributed as an ‘oxygen loan’ to poorest people or slumdwellers in Nagpur and other cities,” Poacha beamed. The oxygen concentrators, each costing around Rs 75,000, are easy-to-use, tough workhorses and have functioned without glitches and are helping save many people breathe easily, absolutely free of cost.
Many patients need to remain on oxygen through the recovery process for at least a month but the underprivileged are unable to afford this so they are kept back in hospital, thus depriving other needy patients of treatment. The Oxygen Bank, billed as first of its kind in India, instead of simply giving away the oxygen concentrators, these will be rotated among various tribals and poor patients as required to ensure maximum reach.
“With the growing demand and appeals from tribal belts in Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Gondia and Wardha, we now seek another 60 oxygen concentrators of similar quality for the recovered poor tribals or slumdwellers,” Poacha shares. This is indeed a unique concept and ensures that the oxygen concentrators can be put to use for multiple patients and avoids wastage of resources in remote areas of Vidarbha.
At the height of the first lockdown, through his ‘Seva Kitchen’ initiative, Poacha and his team of 1000 volunteers collected and donated food or aid worth nearly Rs 50 lakh via online appeals only. Impressed by the feat, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called up Poacha the next morning, while Railway Minister Piyush Goyal proudly tweeted his “railway family” member’s eye-catching achievements the following day.
“Till date we have given over two million foodkits in Nagpur, Wardha, Yavatmal, slumdwellers in Mumbai and even Amreli in Gujarat, with support from NGOs like Sant Nirankari Seval Dal, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission, besides many silent or anonymous philanthropists,” shared Poacha.
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