With the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic creating havoc in India, the frontline workers are under severe stress. The healthcare system, the doctors, ambulance drivers and even the medical supplies are under a massive shortage. While there are NGOs, volunteers and many others trying to help the frontline workers in any way they can, there is still a shortage. Arjun Gowda, an actor has turned into an ambulance driver and is saving lives.
Arjun Gowda is a popular Kannada actor who has decided to become an ambulance driver due to the shortage. He started the Project Smile Trust to provide medical help and resources to the COVID-19 affected patients. The trust even helps the victims with the final rites of the people who have died due to the virus.
The actor is already on the road and is helping the victims. While talking to TOI, he said,
“I’ve been on the road for a couple of days and I’ve already helped out around half a dozen people with assistance for final rites. We want to ensure that we help out anyone in need irrespective of where they come from or what religion they practice.”
Arjun also helped during the first wave of the pandemic last year. He got into food distribution and other relief work to help the COVID-19 affected people. In this wave of pandemic, Arjun has taken new challenges.
A typical day as an ambulance driver in Arjun’s life involves transporting patients to the hospital. He also ferries bodies to the crematoriums. Arjun says that he has helped over half a dozen people in just two days and he plans to help more.
Not charging for services
Gowda decided to help the victims after an elderly woman who used to distribute milk succumbed to COVID-19. Her son approached Gowda asking for financial help. That is when Gowda got to know that ambulances services ask for anything between Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 depending on the distance and cause. That’s when he decided to help the victims for free. He joined an NGO which was already involved in the relief work. The NGO provided him with an ambulance and that’s how he started helping others.
Arjun says he cannot do more than two to three trips every day as there is a massive waiting period everywhere. At the incinerators, where the bodies are cremated, it takes about 90 minutes to burn the body and he always finds at least 20 ambulances waiting for their turn. Most of the time spent by Arjun goes in waiting.
Gowda has also said that it takes a toll on his life and health too. He has not been home for a fortnight as he stays in a big family and cannot expose the risk of spreading the virus. He isolates himself at a friend’s place nearby. He talks to his parents from the balcony sometimes.
Many other celebrities and actors are helping in many ways during this pandemic.