BMC’s COVID Sachetaks: A Ray of Hope for Bhubaneswar’s Needy and Elderly People During Pandemic

Bhubaneswar: At a time when most of the people stay indoors to prevent the risk of contracting COVID-19, there is a group of unsung heroes who are working relentlessly on the frontlines with a prime objective to help those who need it the most! They are ‘COVID Sachetaks’ of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC). These Sachetaks have truly emerged as a ray of hope for the needy, poor, destitutes, differently-abled persons, under privileged, elderly and senior citizens of the State capital city during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in providing immediate assistance and relief.

From delivering groceries, vegetables, medicines and other essential items to people in containment zones during the previous lockdown and shutdowns to reaching out COVID-19 positive patients, pasting quarantine and home isolation stickers, these COVID Sachetaks working day and night throughout the week to ensure that all needy and vulnerable people in the city get proper care, attention and stay safe and healthy.

Besides, the COVID Sachetaks of the Civic Body are playing a very crucial role in creating awareness regarding COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, not spitting in public and practicing hand hygiene in different slums and non-slum areas in the city.

R. Santosh Dora, a 38-year-old man from Bhoi Nagar area in the city, who has been a social worker and volunteer for last 15 years, is leading a team of 30 COVID Sachetaks in Ward No -29 since the pandemic began. He is quick to reach out with all possible helps once being informed that a person from his area feeling helpless and needs assistance.

“I have been working as a Sachetak for the last three months, and during this period, I along with my team members had helped over hundreds of people both from slum and non-slum areas in getting admitted to COVID Care Centre, home delivery of essential items, creating awareness on how to stay safe and healthy during this pandemic,” said Dora, who has won Governor’s Award for his exemplary work as voluntary worker in the city.

Similarly, Sushree Sangita Das, another COVID Sachetak working in Unit-IX area in the city, is setting examples for her peers by leading from the from the front when it comes reaching out the needy and distressed people seeking help during this unprecedented health crisis.

As most of the people stay indoors to prevent the risk of contracting, 20-year-old Sushree Sangita braves all odds and obstacles to ensure her knowledge, expertise and help reach out to the most vulnerable and downtrodden of the society during this pandemic.

“Like every crisis brings an opportunity, the coronavirus pandemic has done the same. We are fortunate, and it has been a great learning experience for us working as COVID Sachetaks. I feel empowered when people in distress call me seeking help. That is the most beautiful experience above anything else,” Sushree Sangita, who is now pursing graduation from IGNOU.

Likewise, Rahul Palai from Saheed Nagar area is a COVID Sachetak and has been working relentlessly on the frontline in his area when a person needs immediate help during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is working in Birsa Munda Slum since March and, claims he gets around 25 to 30 phone calls during a day from different people in his area seeking various services.

The COVID Sachetaks are also playing an important role in strict adherence of COVID-19 guidelines in markets, shops and commercial establishments as these places have reopened in the Unlock 4.0 in order to ensure a balance between lives and livelihoods. “Our team first creates awareness at crowded market areas such as Unit-2 Market, Unit -1 Market and shopping malls etc., and subsequently informs the enforcement teams and police if any one violates the rules despite repeated warnings. We are keeping a watch on COVID norms violators,” Rahul added.

Elderly people and senior citizens have acknowledged and praised these COVID Sachetaks for their contributions to the society during this difficult time.

“BMC’s COVID Sachetaks need to be applauded and deserved all praise as they have doing a great job in creating awareness among public and helping the most vulnerable and needy persons in the city during this pandemic. We all must salute their spirit and dedication in the fight against COVID-19,” said R. B. Nayak, a senior citizen and retired IAS officer, who has attended a few awareness programmes conducted by BMC over COVID-19.

Apart from creating awareness, the COVID Sachetaks are also keep a vigil on violation of Covid-19 safety guidelines including social distancing and wearing masks and subsequently report it to the enforcement teams and police in their area for stringent action against the violators.

Lauding the exemplary efforts, service and unflinching commitment shown by COVID Sachetaks, BMC Commissioner Shri Prem Chandra Chaudhary said: “Our COVID Sachetaks reaching out the needy, elderly people and senior citizens and have been included in the campaign to make the people aware of the coronavirus in slum and non-slum areas in the city. Besides, our COVID Sachetaks are on high alert for positive cases and immediately help the people under home quarantine or home isolation in pasting stickers and delivering of essential commodities.”

Notably, over 2,000 COVID Sachetaks have been appointed by the Civic Body to help senior citizens, differently-abled persons in their need during the pandemic, assist frontline workers and generate awareness among people about the health crisis.