Back in 2019, we had no idea what the future had in store for us. We dealt with the first phase of COVID-19 in 2020 with some amount of success.
Cut to 2021, and we are struggling severely with the second wave of Coronavirus and people are helpless as the health care system seems to have collapsed.
It’s getting more and more difficult for people as they are even unable to arrange for oxygen for their loved ones. The visuals of the crematorium are terrifying and it’s a clear result of the government’s lack of vision.
When things were collapsing, many NGOs came to the forefront and became the pioneers in India’s fight against the pandemic.
One such organization at the forefront is the Hemkunt Foundation that is based in Gurugram. Despite limited resources, the owners decided to come forward to help those who are in need as pandemic has been claiming many lives.
From oxygen cylinders to providing food, the foundation has been putting its best foot forward in order to serve those in need.
In an interview with Humans of Bombay, Harteerath Singh, whose family runs the NGO spoke about how the organisation was created and how even before the pandemic, they have been trying to make differences in people’s lives who are in need.
He said, “In 2013 when I was trekking to Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib with my family, a cloudburst hit us. For a week, I was stuck in Uttarakhand without food or shelter; I was traumatized by the deaths I saw. Finally, on the 8th day, the Army rescued us. I couldn’t believe we were safe–mujhe aisa laga ki khud bhagwan aye hamari madat ke liye, Army officers ke roop mein. I knew I’d found my calling.”View this post on Instagram
He went on to add, “I’d started Hemkunt Foundation in 2010, but it was only after that that I began working on it properly. I’d received help & wanted to carry that forward. So I went back to Uttarakhand, with fuel & food for the locals. Over 2.5 years, I rebuilt their houses, constructed roads. With time, my business took a backseat; I had to sell my house, even my wife’s jewellery. Still, I was sure, ‘Business rahe ya na rahe, Hemkunt rehna chahiye’; we kept going on donations by well-wishers. My family & I moved to a 1 room flat; I was content.”
Sharing an incident, he added, “One of those days, a man who’d lost his family asked me for a loan of Rs.70,000–we had no money, but I didn’t have the heart to refuse him & gave him a cheque. That evening, a stranger donated exactly Rs.70,000! Then when the 2020 lockdown happened, I only had Rs.12,500. So, I devised a plan to help migrants; I made 10 rotis and asked 10 neighbours to do the same. Each of them telephoned 10 others & soon, we were distributing 40000 rotis a day.”
Talking about his son’s contribution, he said, “My son, Harteerath, volunteered to help me out. At first, I worried for his safety, but then I told myself, ‘Jab itne sare logon ki duayen hamare saath hai, hame kuch nahi ho sakta.’ And since the 2nd wave started, we’ve helped thousands with oxygen cylinders. And now, we’re pooling money to import oxygen cylinders; we also plan on building a PSA plant to manufacture oxygen. Till now, we’ve helped people with over 1,50,000+ litres of oxygen. My son has gotten COVID twice but as soon as he recovered, he joined me. Whenever people praise him, my chest swells with pride. I know that even if something happens to me, my son will take care of all this & Hemkunt will keep helping people.”
If you have been following their account on Instagram, you would have an idea that they have been arranging oxygen cylinders. They have organized cylinder drives that operated 24/7 in Gurgaon and it started around April 18.View this post on Instagram
They have also been active in Mumbai as they have opened oxygen collection centres in the city. They have been taking help from Gurudwaras and are leaving no stone unturned in helping people.View this post on Instagram
They have also started one more initiative wherein people can drive to their drive-through center in Gurugram and collect oxygen.View this post on Instagram
They have been doing it all and it’s time that we also support their cause.