Group sends cards, bas­kets to COVID-19 pa­tients

Times Standard (Eureka) - - LIFESTYLE - By Jul­has Alam

DHAKA, BANGLADESH » When her fa­ther tested pos­i­tive for COVID-19, Su­mona Khanom strug­gled to get a bed for him at an al­ready over­whelmed Dhaka Med­i­cal Col­lege Hos­pi­tal. The fam­ily strug­gled, too, with a lack of money to buy food.

She was ex­hausted. But then, so­lace came in the form of a fruit bas­ket from the Bidyanondo Foun­da­tion.

There were man­goes, litchis, or­anges, ap­ples, lemons and other food. And there was a get-well card for her fa­ther that read, “We are here to stand by you. This (gift) is a to­ken of love. Our heart goes to you!”

The bas­ket was pre­sented by vol­un­teers work­ing for the foun­da­tion, es­tab­lished in 2013 and known for its food as­sis­tance pro­grams for street chil­dren and the poor. The group — its name means “learn for fun” — has stepped in to build aware­ness of COVID-19 among fam­i­lies of virus’ vic­tims and the com­mu­nity.

Its ef­forts have been in­spired by news re­ports of ne­glect of vic­tims, or hos­til­ity to­ward them.

One fam­ily aban­doned an el­derly woman in a for­est near their home when they sus­pected she was in­fected. In an­other in­ci­dent, a fa­ther died be­ing locked in his room when he re­turned from work with fever. The fam­ily did not take him to a hos­pi­tal. Other fam­i­lies have re­fused to take bod­ies for burial or cre­ma­tion.

The in­ci­dents have prompted Bangladesh’s Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina to ex­press her re­gret in a speech in Par­lia­ment.

Foun­da­tion of­fi­cials said fam­i­lies should un­der­stand how im­por­tant it is to sup­port those bat­tling COVID-19 when they need it the most.

“Those news re­ports are very shock­ing. We can­not be­lieve this can hap­pen in a so­ci­ety where rel­a­tives usu­ally throng a hos­pi­tal when some­one be­comes ill. But this pan­demic is teach­ing us many new things and show­ing its teeth,” said Sal­man Khan Yeasin, a foun­da­tion man­ager.

“Ac­tu­ally, in this time of corona, hu­man­ity is in a sort fad­ing away. But in this case, we are try­ing to set an ex­am­ple of hu­man­i­tar­ian ap­proach,” he said.

The group has dis­trib­uted about 1,400 fruit bas­kets since it be­gan dis­tribut­ing them on June 1.

Bidyanondo de­pends mostly on crowd­fund­ing. It has built a part­ner­ship with the mil­i­tary and its agen­cies, and works with about 80 other groups across Bangladesh.

Yeasin said while the foun­da­tion’s pri­mary tar­get is to sup­port pa­tients and build aware­ness, it does not want doc­tors and other health work­ers to be for­got­ten.

“Many health work­ers are stay­ing out­side home, away from their fam­i­lies to pro­vide health care,” he said. “We wanted to thank them. They also need men­tal sup­port.”

So it has sent them cards. One reads: “We be­come brave to do more (for peo­ple) see­ing your ef­forts, we know you will con­tinue this fight to save our lives if we be­come ill to­mor­row.”

Bidyanondo’s ef­forts have been met with grat­i­tude. Su­mona Khanom ap­pre­ci­ated that the foun­da­tion “has come for­ward to help my fa­ther.”

“I hope,” she said, “they would come for­ward to help all other fa­thers.”

While non­stop news about the ef­fects of the coro­n­avirus has be­come com­mon­place, so, too, have tales of kind­ness. “One Good Thing” is a se­ries of AP sto­ries fo­cus­ing on glim­mers of joy and benev­o­lence in a dark time. Read the se­ries here: https://ap­ OneGoodThi­ng


Mem­bers of Bidyanondo Foun­da­tion pack care pack­ages for COVID-19 pa­tients in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on June 6.

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