Time and again, the youths rose to the occasion when the country needed them the most. This time around, when the Coronavirus pandemic has been sweeping through the bordering districts, eight youths from Chulkathi area of Bagerhat Sadar upazila have come to the rescue of affected locals.
On May 1, they launched a 24-hour service named 'Chulkathi Oxygen Bank' to stand by critical Covid patients who cannot afford to buy oxygen-filled cylinders due to its skyrocketing prices.
Soon after getting a distress call on their hotline (01711309483) or a message on their Facebook page, two of their volunteers hop on a motorbike with an oxygen cylinder and rush out to the home of the patient.
Aside from providing the free service to patients in Bagerhat Sadar, the volunteers so far served patients in Morrelganj, Fakirhat and Mongla upazilas in Bagerhat, and Rupsa upazila in neighbouring district of Khulna.
Out of the eight volunteers, Shakib Hasan Johnny, Kazi Rezwan and Choyon Debnath already contracted Covid-19. But the disease could not deter them from their will to serve the less fortunate and they resumed their voluntary work soon after they tested negative.
Arif Dhali, one of the founders of the oxygen bank, said several of his friends decided to provide free oxygen support to Covid patients as finding affordable oxygen supply was getting difficult due to its rising demands.
They first got training from doctors on how to handle oxygen cylinders and necessary apparatus and gathered Tk 34 thousand to buy two sets of oxygen dispensing units along with cylinders.
With the third set of cylinder they received a from a well-wisher recently, they have been working day and night to save every possible human life, Arif said, adding that they refill the three cylinders at a time, for Tk 150 each, from Khulna and they pay Tk 1,000 for the round trip transport of the cylinders.
Covid survivor Shakil, an employee of Local Government Engineering Department in Rampal upazila, said he was thankful to the Creator for sending the volunteers of Chulkathi Oxygen Bank with the crucial oxygen support that saved his life.
Lalima Ahsan, a relative of Covid patient Shipon, from Morrelganj upazila, said they called Chulkathi Oxygen Bank when Shipon was in dire need of oxygen.
"We are grateful to Chulkathi Oxygen Bank" and its volunteers for promptly delivering the oxygen, which ultimately saved his life, she also said.
Jakaria Hossain Shawan, another of the founders and the coordinator of the oxygen bank, said thanks to the courage displayed by their volunteers and the contributions made by a few kind-hearted souls, they have so far been able to continue the invaluable service for people in the region.
If more people from the affluent section of the society joined their cause, they would be able to reach out to a larger number of critical patients, he added.