Collaborative Emergency Response Programme (CERP) was started in May 2021 to respond to the extremely destructive pandemic of Covid 19 that came in its 2nd wave in India with great force and impact. CERP was conceptualized by 3 people – Gary Kamaal, Rev. Jeremy Dawson and Himadri De, of the foundations –Viva India, Covenant Life and Shishu Sangopan Griha, and has expanded to cover the cities of Delhi, Dehradun (and Uttarakhand state), Pune, Patna and its rural surroundings, Bangalore, and Kolkata.
CERP is a collaborative effort of well-meaning NGOs towards joining hands towards an effective response through a series of support services. CERP offers a team of trained coordinators to assist in various ways. The Team manages a list of resources of doctors, hospitals, medicines, food supplies, and other necessities in the city so that our coordinators can assist any individual in need to find any need at the earliest. The CERP team also promotes home based care and has high quality oxygen concentrators, nebulizers, and oximeters for any patient for use during their home treatment, free of cost at every city unit. The CERP Team has volunteers to help deliver the equipment to patients based on their needs. The CERP team also helps patients to find a hospital bed if the patient requires hospitalization or connect with a doctor for further treatment or evaluation.
Mukund, coordinator from Patna shares her experience. “During the pandemic, we have started CERP in Patna for covid patients. The program really became blessings for many families. I received a call from a patient’s mother, her 23-year-old son was admitted in the Patna medical college hospital. One month ago, he had covid and due to that his lungs and kidneys were severely injured. She started crying when sharing. They were living hope for his survival. I visited them and provided support whatever we could. We also provided counselling support. She shared nobody had come before and supported like this. God has sent you for me after meeting you I feel so comfortable. Her statement encouraging me to do more for the needy. I felt so blessed to be part of this program.”
Michelle a volunteer from Delhi shares “At the beginning of this 2nd wave when everything got chaotic in Delhi as people did not know what to do or where to go, it was this time when my friend who lives abroad called and told me her mother and brother were diagnosed with COVID. She asked me to help by calling up places for an oximeter. To get an oximeter was difficult, after calling many chemists I then managed to find one who had stock and was ready to deliver it the next day. Next the need came for Homecare equipment. I would have tried many places only to know that either not available or number switched off. That is when I realized what people would have been experiencing. After a lot of difficulty and falling into traps of fraudulent people, she managed to arrange it all in two weeks. A week later Mr. Gary Kamaal, Director of Viva India told me about the CERP Programme, and I was happy to know that I could be a part of a team to help people in distress. I feel fortunate to be part of this team where each one will go out of their way to make a difference to a patient and their families. It has been encouraging to hear the stories of how CERP Team has come to the rescue of people who had lost hope and had no one to help them.”
Roopa a volunteer in Delhi shares “A few very close friends and their families had tested positive for covid, and they did not have the energy and capability to do basic things like cook a meal, get groceries, medicine, oxygen, hospital beds etc. My husband and I stepped in to help meet their needs. This made me realize that there who are facing the same situation and do not know how and what to do and need help. I just could not sit helplessly and watch, I wanted to do something for them. Later that week I got to know that Jeremy Dawson was starting something on the same lines, and I was only too happy to offer my help and join him and his team to reach out to those in need of help.”
A patient shares “My name is Niranjan Kumar, I live in Gaurichak village at Patna. Our village is remote, and the health facilities are extremely far from our place. 1 week ago, I was tested covid positive, I became nervous after receiving the report. I had symptoms of covid, slightly my cough increased and one day at midnight breathing difficulties had started, my wife was very nervous to see my condition. She called the CERP Mentor immediately, and within half an hour he arrived with oximeter and oxygen concentrator. My oxygen levels were low. He has given me oxygen support. I am doing fine now. I would like to thank CERP and all the team member for these kinds of Initiative. His timely help could save my life.”
On June 5th, a call was received from Mrs. Chandreshwari’s neighbor requesting help for Chandreshwari as her oxygen level was dipping down. She is a COVID patient. As soon as the call was received, the CERP Uttarakhand team got into action and the volunteers began arranging to take the Oxygen Concentrator to her house. While the team was preparing themselves to take the equipment with all the necessary requirements, Mrs. Chandreshwari’s son kept calling as she was having difficulty in breathing. It was a panic situation. This is where, one of the CERP Mentor, Nishi Massey, stepped forward and said she could help in fixing the concentrator for the patient. The team arrived at Mrs. Chandreshwari’s house, fixed the concentrator, which immediately gave her relief and brought her oxygen level up. She even counselled her to get a doctor’s consultation and get admitted in the hospital for treatment. In the meanwhile, the professional help also arrived and checked the Oxygen Concentrator and found that Nishi had done a good job and he praised her for it. He gave some further instructions to the attendant about how to monitor the oxygen level, etc. Two hours later, Chandreshwari was shifted to Doon Hospital. She is being treated for the same and she is recovering and making good progress. In the meanwhile, Chandreshwari’s son is extremely thankful to the CERP Uttarakhand team for their timely help and is in regular touch with the mentors, giving an update about his mother’s condition.
The CERP project aims towards ensuring optimum services to patients in need during a covid infection, to minimize their challenges of finding resources, hospitals and spending huge amounts of money on equipment. The CERP project does not charge any money for any of its services and is freely available via phone call in these cities to any person in need – irrespective of the financial condition of the family. CERP project is a unique response programme that encompasses every aspect of need for a patient and their family during the impact of covid in their lives whether it is finding food to eat, medicines to buy, equipment to use, or hospital facilities in case of an emergency. CERP has provided services to more than 300 individuals and families since the last 2 months. While the number of cases may see a decline these days, CERP is well prepared and geared up for any eventuality of the 3rd wave and continues to provide services and support for covid.
According to Himadri De, one of the founders of the movement of CERP in India, “CERP has completed 3 months in India and since then we have grown towards reaching 6 cities. Our newest addition has been the city of Kolkata which is constantly challenged with vast poverty, lack of medical care and support and of course the constant fear of the spread of the virus.
The last few weeks we have seen a steady decline in the number of cases however, we are constantly being informed of the next wave hitting India soon enough.
People are getting fed up with being indoors and the government and cities are witnessing what is being called ‘revenge tourism’. Despite the need for care in these times, sanity is equally important, and people are just not able to deal with this intense period since 2020 which has disrupted lives, families, and homes in so many ways. From deaths and losses to emotional stress and breakdowns, there have been far too much mental and emotional stress on people.
A friend recently mentioned, “I have come to a stage where I rather get infected with the virus instead of being locked in because I can’t take it anymore!” The mental strain is equally high!
It’s true that as humans we are unable to stay indoors and remain in this most uncertain situation and we want our normal lives again.
CERP has been working hard towards training its teams in Bangalore, Pune and Kolkata through zoom trainings. We are blessed with wonderful volunteers and part time staff who are giving their best. Each one realizes the value of their inputs and the work they are putting in.
We also get other forms of request from people—people needing blood for transfusion, plasma, medical costs for other non-covid related illnesses and of course the direct impact of losing work and thereby the inability to meet medical costs for their family members.
The rippling effect of covid is visible—if it’s not the virus, it’s the impact of the virus on the economy, on jobs, and on stability.
It’s not going to be easy for many to get back to normal life, but we all have to do the best we can; CERP has kept aside resources to support such families in urgent need too impacted by covid in a different way, they too are victims of the virus; albeit not by the infection itself, but by its cascading effect on livelihood.
CERP has been supported by the friends across India and the world – individuals from around the world, and foundations like the La Caixa Bank, Holt International Children’s Services, VIDA -Italy and Trust Bridge Foundation.