A New Armour, A New Battle

Kashvi Garg
Who isn’t familiar with the novel covid-19 and its severe ramifications? What new particulars can be presented that we aren’t already enlightened with?
The Indian double mutant variant of covid-19 is on the rise, alarming every citizen. The prediction of a third wave in six months has us reeling with all the different ways we can prevent it as we have been disarmed. Our armour, the antibodies have succumbed to the second wave and the only close chance to weaponize ourselves again is herd immunity. According to eminent doctors, if enough people in a community have immunity against a disease, they are better sheltered from outbreaks. To achieve this, the realization of the intensity of this predicament and getting vaccinated is essential.
If its day time for one hemisphere, it’s always night for the other. Where there is one part of the society which is under the light of awareness, there’s another section of our community that is enjoying a delicious slumber, oblivious to reality’s nightmare but the ‘urban virus’ does not acknowledge borders.
During adverse times like these, our train of thought is usually unidirectional, ‘the bare minimum is considered a luxury and believing in humanity poses a challenge.’ It’s true to some extent, but ANJANA with assistance from the Ramban administration tried to prove otherwise.
ANJANA is a non-governmental organization that works for the development and upliftment of far-flung and inaccessible, rural and backward areas: and engages in all sorts of formative work implied for the welfare of individuals living in blocked-off ranges. This being the main objective, the need of the hour is to enable everyone with the weapon of a vaccine.
A small village, Chilla near Nathatop, Jammu and Kashmir, is inhabited by the local people and migratory Gujjar communities with their temporary set up during summers there. Coupled with poverty, due to their migration, they are unable to avail services of a hospital or give any medical tests.
Team Anjana contacted the Ramban DC office for help regarding vaccinations and they were extremely cooperative and eager to assist. They had already deployed cars equipped with suitable aid to inaccessible areas but there was no surety that they would reach a place that isolated. Anjana tried to make their initiative a little more fruitful by bringing Chilla under their radar.
They channeled their resources (first dose of Covishield along with skilled frontline workers) and within a day, a vaccine drive was orchestrated in Chilla. Anjana collaborated with shiva cafe camping to help organize this drive for their village.
Team Anjana carried out a door-to-door survey to find out Information about residents aged 45 and above. Two of their team members were responsible for the fieldwork. They visited an old, Gujjar lady’s farm to advise and answer queries about the medicine but as soon as they reached, the lady shooed them away.
She had a firm belief in her words when she said that, there is no such thing as the coronavirus and refused to get the vaccine. “if something happens to me, who will take care of my sheep?”. She was irked and they took a step back for the time being, but something just didn’t feel right. The following evening, One team member approached a young girl from a different household in hopes of convincing the lady. Sometimes the same words coming from a familiar face strikes a chord within and that can make all the difference.
After notifying the people in question, an awareness campaign was conducted to overcome the hurdle of infamous myths and taboos about the virus and vaccines. A middle-aged lady informed them that she had received the first jab but didn’t get tested. People there were a little nervous and apprehensive about giving medical tests and that’s another reason contributing to the reluctance towards the medicine.
It took a great deal of convincing and signifying the benefits of the imminent tests followed by protocols for prevention. They were hesitant at first, but they heard what the team had to say with an open mind. A common place was decided for the procedure, as the authorities were coming from far, and canvassing would have been tedious.
Every resident was dressed up for the occasion. A new armour, A new battle. They were vaccinated, tested (RT-PCR) and over 100 samples were collected by the team. Some people who received the first jab of the medicine were above 80 years of age, some over 90! The Gujjar lady who was apprehensive also came and thanked Harman for making the effort to educate her. The squad will return to Chilla for vaccinating residents aged 18-45 in the next drive.
Rano begum, a 9year old who lost her leg due to an accident while migrating and a middle-aged pregnant handicapped lady of 35, who were among the ones to be vaccinated, didn’t get the jab due to the inability to produce handicapped certificates. A senior citizen who didn’t have any documentation, particularly his Aadhar card, also could not receive the jab. These formalities imposed by the government are essential for procedures of such importance but during such a harrowing crisis, some reforms in these policies are essential to fast-track the process of acquiring such documentation. Dr. Jacob John said in his recent interview, “stepping up vaccinations will not affect the rise of the second wave but it will definitely save many individual lives.”
At times like these, it is very important for every stakeholder of the community be it NGOs, political parties, the government to join hands and use the power and authority they possess in a way that assuages the hardship instead of playing the blame game.