BEATING THE COVID-19 STIGMA : HOW 4 GATED COMMUNITIES WORKED AROUND SOCIAL PREJUDICE!

You know what’s genuinely heartwarming about this year’s Rise High Awards? The thoughtful and selfless initiatives made towards our COVID warriors like the community staff and security. This year made us realise how valuable their service to the community actually is. There was no better time than the crisis for these communities to come forward and support the frontline warriors. These stories will compel you to think and care for everyone around you. Read on!

Everyone takes measures to care for their residents within their community. But these three people went beyond geographical borders to help residents. When family members and friends of residents were stuck in different states due to the lockdown, the trio reached out to the representatives and police departments and created some essential passes for people to move into the city. During the early days of COVID-19 pandemic, many children of the senior citizens, who were stuck in other parts of the country, were terribly missed by their parents. These senior citizens treated association members and residents as though they were their own children. This destroyed any boundaries that existed between the other residents and these senior citizens and brought My Home Jewel together as a family.

Besides this, the association raised a sum of about 20 lakh rupees in the course of 4 months, with the help of the commissioner of police and the police department for migrant labourers. They distributed groceries that could last for about 10-15 days to the migrant families. After the lockdown was announced, the community created a framework called Resident Volunteer Groups (RVGs). Due to this framework after March, for 6 months, there was not a single COVID positive case in the community. When some COVID positive residents refused to share any details of their ailment or even refused to admit that they had COVID, the association personally counselled them. Such was the understanding and concern between the members of My Home Jewel community.

Age sees no bar when it comes to being of service to your community. These words could not have been truer in this case. Both Mr. Anand Rao and Mr. Shivaramiha are retired senior citizens. We are all aware that the senior citizens are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. Despite the risk, both were at the forefront of COVID management and looked after the delivery of door-to-door services. They effectively managed to control the COVID cases in their community. Once, the housekeeping staff were worried about entering the premises to pick up the garbage because of a COVID positive resident in the community. At that point of time, Mr. Anand Rao and Mr. Shivaramiha personally visited the houses of these housekeeping staff, motivated them to carry on their duties and assured that the community would take responsibility in case something went wrong. This ensured that the community did not lose any additional help and manpower. Besides, 3 medical camps were conducted in coordination with BBMP doctors in the community. We applaud both Mr. Anand Rao and Mr. Shivaramiha for prioritizing the wellbeing of their fellow residents before their own!

Often, when we are thinking in terms of community health, we tend to prioritize the health of residents first. However, during a crisis like COVID, the housekeeping and security staff are naturally the frontend warriors and their safety matters equally. Mr. Atul Dhongde, Mr Jeevan and Mr. Dinesh Mohite mobilized support for the building staff by offering them the COVID insurance. When the first Unlock procedures came into force in June, the government also allowed house help to resume their work. Here, there was a conflict that arose between the residents who were in favour of external house help to continue their services and those who were against it due to fear of COVID spread. From a management perspective, this was handled exceptionally well with a clear conversation with the conflicted residents. There are around 4-5 apartment complexes around Vatsalya Vihar Housing society. It was Vatsalya Vihar that took up the baton in terms of caring for the service people by creating one-time reward funds for the housekeeping staff. Truly, it’s gestures like these that make everyone in the community feel included and cared for.

Handling negative feedback and criticism is not something that comes easily to people. Maybe the strength to deal with feedback comes with experience. Or perhaps, it is just the presence of mind. Regardless, Mr. Sandesh Shetty and Mr. Sudheer Reddy were as graceful as ever. During the early days of COVID-19 crisis, Mr. Shetty had been very active in the online communication channels and WhatsApp groups. When it came to the COVID crisis, Mr. Shetty and Mr. Reddy communicated clearly regarding all quarantine requirements. Whenever someone tested positive for COVID, they would not reveal the privacy of the patient. But harsh comments and criticism found their way. Some would write, “it is not your job”. But both of them would keep their cool and respond diplomatically. Continuing to do positive things for the upliftment of your community despite all the backlash, especially during a crisis – now THAT is real heroism.

This brings us to the end of our first Rise High Story Collection. Stay tuned, as we have more moving stories of COVID heroes coming up next. Until then, Rise High!

Know of any Heroes in your Community who deserves to be recognised for their pandemic management efforts? Click here to submit nominations. Last date has been extended to January 10, 2021.

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