New Delhi | Agastyaa Gupta: If ever there was an event, unprecedented, disruptive and seminal, corona pandemic was that. The Covid times will remain etched in our minds perhaps forever. Those memories of medical and economic suffering, of isolation and suspension of routine activities, of course, stir melancholy. We did, however, also witness acts of kindness and compassion that reinforced one’s belief in humanity.

I am happy to share the story of Saatvik Swarup a grade 11 student at Vasant Valley School in New Delhi. At the height of the pandemic in 2020 when things seemed going awry with no clarity about what lay ahead, he was driven by empathy for those less privileged than him. He observed that not only were sections of the community grappling with resource constraint, the lack of awareness also contributed to their woes.

The three tenets of safety prescribed by medical professionals across the world were – masking, hand hygiene and social distancing. The relevance of hygiene in our lives can hardly be overstated, and in times of virulent disease, the inextricable connect of sanitation and survival came to the fore.

Saatvik decided to address the issue of sub-optimal hygiene standards prevalent amongst the less fortunate and underserved members of our society. He launched a sanitation program called, ‘Sanitation Opportunity and Access Project’ with the acronym SOAP. The idea was to spread awareness and also raise funds for the purpose. An online fundraiser was initiated through Facebook and Ketto. He also reached out to corporates and his personal and family’s social network to generate more revenue. The amounts raised were used for providing hygiene kits comprising of soaps, sanitisers, masks, disinfectants etc. and also food items.

This was done in collaboration with NGO’s of the area, one of them was the Robin Hood army, which helped in the distribution of food packets and hygiene material to those in need. The awareness was spread through personal contact programs conducted by a team of volunteers brought together by Saatvik. The age-old ways of circulating pamphlets were deployed to spread the message as also physical and online programs conducted to propagate Covid appropriate protocol.

At the time of writing, we all hope that the worst phase of the pandemic is behind us. Be that as it may, the learning’s of those frightening times should not be lost out. What we must also never obliterate are inspiring stories of people such as Saatvik and remember fondly the tireless and selfless efforts.

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan