Chulkathi Oxygen Bank, a voluntary organisation run by eight youths in Bagerhat, has been providing free oxygen since May to save lives of Covid-19 patients amid the second wave of the pandemic.
The youths from Sadar upazila launched their oxygen bank on 1 May and so far their organisation has delivered oxygen cylinders to at least 11 Covid patients having breathing difficulties.
The humanitarian initiative at a time when Covid patients are facing an oxygen crisis has been appreciated by all. Beside Bagerhat, the organisation has also delivered oxygen in neighbouring Khulna's Rupsha upazila.
The volunteers go to houses of patients with oxygen cylinders when they are called on the phone or are contacted on their Facebook page.
Shakib Hasan Jony, Kazi Rezwan and Choyan Debnath of the organisation also contracted the virus in the course of their efforts to supply oxygen, but they have recovered now.
Rezwan, one of initiators of the organisation, said: "On 1 May, we and a few friends launched the oxygen bank. Since then we have tried our best to meet the oxygen needs of patients. "
Shakil Mahmud, a Rampal upazila Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) official, survived Covid-19 infection with the assistance of Chulkathi Oxygen Bank.
He said, "I feel much better now. That day (18 June) I got oxygen support from Chulkathi Oxygen Bank. Allah knows what would have happened if I hadn't. "
Lalima Ahsan, a relative of Syed Rizvi Ahmed Shipon, a Covid-19 patient from Morrelganj upazila, said, "We are grateful to Chulkathi Oxygen Bank. Shipon was very ill; they came and provided oxygen soon after we called them. Shipon is now slowly recovering. "
Zakaria Hossain Shaon, one of the founders and coordinators of the organisation, said "A Covid patient with breathing problems needs a full set of oxygen cylinders to give oxygen support. We need about Tk17,000 to make a set and we currently have only two sets. "
He said if a set is refilled, oxygen can be given for a minimum of 1,500 minutes. It costs Tk150 to refill once and these cylinders have to be refilled from Khulna. Not refill, but a full set of cylinders is the key to providing service to Covid patients.
"We are providing oxygen support for free with the financial support of kind-hearted people in society. If we had a few more sets, we could serve more people," he said.
Zakaria also sought support of affluent people in this regard.
Upazila Parishad chairman Sardar Nasir Uddin said the Chulkathi Oxygen Bank initiative during the Covid-19 pandemic deserves praise.
Thanking the youths for the initiative, he also assured the organisation of providing necessary assistance.