Mumbai: NGO steps in to help families of COVID-19 martyrs

Updated: 13 October, 2020 07:14 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Following this paper's reports on plight of kin of frontline warriors, non-profit to give them Rs 5,000/month

A health worker takes samples from residents in Goregaon
A health worker takes samples from residents in Goregaon

Even as the families of 58 doctors, who died while treating COVID-19 patients, wait for the Rs 50 lakh insurance amount promised by the government, a Mumbai-based charitable trust has decided to help five of the families financially for the next six months.

This comes just four days after mid-day published a report highlighting the plight of the kin of the frontline warriors.

Swab samples being collected at a free COVID-19 testing camp at Naikwadi, Goregaon. File pic
Swab samples being collected at a free COVID-19 testing camp at Naikwadi, Goregaon. File pic

While some of the families welcomed the decision, others have requested RK Darayanani Charitable (RKDC) Trust to choose the most deserving families, who have lost their sole breadwinner or maybe the widow has delivered a child recently. They have also said that the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Maharashtra, should do the ground analysis and decide on the beneficiaries based on their financial status. The trust had made the largest donation to the Indian Army for its law college in Pune in 2018.

Selfless service

Dr Prem Darayanani, managing trustee of RKDC confirmed the same and said, "We were touched by the selfless services rendered by the frontline doctors from across Maharashtra, who sacrificed their lives taking care of patients. Our trust salutes these warriors and their families. Any gesture of providing support to these brave hearts is nothing but an attempt to express our gratitude towards their selfless service."

Dr Akshay Thakur's parents
Dr Akshay Thakur's parents

"We have decided to support the families by transferring a monthly amount of '5,000 to their bank accounts, till the time the government intervenes and pays them their rightful insurance amount," added Dr Darayanani.

When asked for how long the financial support would be extended, he said, "To begin with, our contribution would continue for a period of six months and then we would decide further by evaluating the requirements. Our intention is not to glorify our trust, but to convey a message that the sacrifice of these frontline warriors should not go unnoticed. It is now our turn to stand with the bereaved families."

Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president, IMA, Maharashtra
Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president, IMA, Maharashtra

Dr Advait Kakade, 32, son of late Dr Vilas Kakade, 65, said, "The financial support should be routed through the IMA and the deserving families should be shortlisted based on the list that has already been formulated. The selected families can then be given a lumpsum amount than a monthly payout." Advait also requested the government to clear the insurance sum of '50 lakh, as promised.

Huge loans

Deepak Thakur, 61, father of late Dr Akshay Thakur, 29, who was the sole breadwinner of the family, said, "I have huge amounts of loans to repay ('14 lakh towards the COVID-19 treatment of all three family members). I do not have any source of income and all my retirement funds were used for Akshay's dental education."

Thakur further added, "Both my wife and I need monthly medicines worth '8,000. We do not know how to face this financial crisis. Our only appeal to the government is to clear the insurance money."

Meanwhile, Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president, IMA, Maharashtra said, "We are thankful to the trust for coming forward and helping the families of the frontline doctors. It is truly a healing touch for them." Acknowledging the view of the families, he said, "Instead of paying a monthly amount to the families, it is better to give a lumpsum amount to two or three families who are the most deserving. The IMA would contact the district-level team to verify the financial status and the most-deserving list could be submitted to the charitable trust. They can then extend the financial aid to the families directly during the Annual Conference of IMA, Maharashtra, which is slated for November 28 and 29."

When informed about the same, Dr Darayanani said, "I am more than overwhelmed with the response of the families and IMA state president. We will coordinate with them."

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First Published: 13 October, 2020 07:06 IST

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