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Meet The Delhi Brothers Distributing Free Oxygen In Times Of Crisis

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

“When a thousand people believe a made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s religion.” – Yuval Noah Harari.

India is going through one of the darkest periods in its rich history. COVID-19 hit the country like a storm that nobody was prepared for and we all are still toppling helplessly. We, as a nation, boast of our unity and rich heritage and culture in our national songs and anthem, but the reality is a bit different. People tend to use religion like an invisibility cloak—cover yourself with it, and now you are not accountable for your actions because nobody can see them.

The busy street of Chandni Chowk.

When the novel coronavirus hit India in the month of February, a month later, all mainstream news channels filled their bulletins and “specials” with the news of the Tablighi Jamaat. Being the flag bearers of disseminating information, these channels didn’t budge even once using the term “Corona Jihad”.

The Tablighis were given various tags such as “super-spreaders” and “human bombs” of coronavirus. These people were solely blamed for the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in the country. Journalism in India hit a new low that day.

Almost one year later, India is hit by COVID-19 with an even more significant blow of the second wave. Glaring gaps in the system and its management arose along with the number of cases and unfortunate deaths. The country’s people are gasping for breath, crying for help and hoping to get the resources required for the treatment.

One of the primary resources that many patients required was something that is taken for granted by almost everybody every day—OXYGEN. Major hospitals and medical facilities ran out of oxygen supplies as soon as the surge of patients was seen after the second wave. A lot of casualties were caused because the patients couldn’t get Oxygen on time.

To save their loved ones, people are fighting tooth and nail to arrange oxygen cylinders and refills since hospitals are struggling to keep up with the demand for gas. In Delhi, there are a handful of sites where people can avail themselves of Oxygen by paying a particular amount, but there are people who are providing the facility of refilling the oxygen gas for free.

The Street leading to Turkman Gate.

Situated near the famous Ram Leela Maidan is the Turkman Gate in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. Out of the 52 gates that Delhi has, Turkman Gate is one of the gates that still stands firm. The stature of the gate is analogous to the will of locals living here who mostly belong to the Muslim community.

Some of these locals decided to help the people in these times of misery. The heads of this humanitarian operation are three brothers named Rehan, Faizan and Zaheen. Talking about the scenario, Zaheen said, “There’s no community, there’s only human. Everybody from our area has been so helpful and contributes with all their heart. Our Prime Minister told us to become ‘Atmanirbhar’, and that’s what we’re doing.”

All three brothers did not want their picture clicked. They said that they did not want any “social media fame”. People from all across the city are coming to get Oxygen to save their loved ones.

Two brothers who live in Patel Nagar were waiting for their cylinder to get refilled. The daughter of one of the brothers, a 2-year-old, was in dire need of Oxygen to survive. “These people are doing what only angels can do. We were losing hope by the minute, but now I am relieved that I was able to get oxygen gas,” said Agam Singh, the father of the child.

The establishment of the operation.

This noble operation has been going on for a week now and they plan to continue this till the situation gets better. Furqaan Ahmed, one of the volunteers and a local of the area, said:

“When the government won’t come forward to help, the public has to take the necessary step. We have three more establishments like this to avoid over-crowding. Nobody asked anybody for help. Everybody here is helping willingly. ‘Main chalta gaya, Karwaan banta gaya vaali baat hai’. Last year we were distributing food kits for the needy, and this time its Oxygen.”

These people belong to the same community that got immense backlash from the media and the people in power. The polarisation of the population was so intense and strong that it induced communal violence in various parts of the country.

We need to understand that humanity is above everything. At the time when we need each other, we need to glorify such deeds so that it develops a feeling of brotherhood and peace. Death doesn’t differentiate between religions.

Religion is nothing but a crutch for those who are weak to establish moral principles on their own. Religion doesn’t decide what our moral values should be; humanity does.

Featured image credit: Sudipta Das/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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