It was 3am when Shaikh Suhana received a call. The caller identified herself as Sharmin Shipa from Shahid Bagh in the capital and said she was having breathing problems.
She asked Suhana whether the latter could arrange oxygen for her. Suhana asked for her address and said she would arrange it.
But she was not sure how safe it was to carry an oxygen cylinder by a scooty at that hour of the night. Nevertheless, she set off because she had to deliver oxygen.
The roads in the capital were almost empty. From her Panthapath home, she went to Banasree to pick up an oxygen cylinder, fastened it to her body, and drove to Shahid Bagh. It was around half past four when she reached Shipa's place.
Shipa was in critical condition and was struggling to breathe. Assuming she was a Covid-19 patient, Suhana first made safety arrangements for herself and then arranged the cylinder to apply the oxygen mask. Shipa's family members came forward and helped her.
Shortly after applying the oxygen mask, Shipa began breathing normally. Like her family members, Suhana also breathed a sigh of relief. She stayed by Shipa for a while giving inspiration to her. She also talked to her family members for some time and asked them to be careful before heading back home.
Suhana, a Sun Certified Java programmer, had been working as a member of the ICT faculty for professionals at Brac Learning Division. But she left the job and became an entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of Sukorma Foundation Bangladesh.
She and her team of volunteers provide oxygen services to critically ill Covid-19 patients. They have 10 cylinders in the capital to provide the service to those in need. More than 50 patients have benefited from the service so far.
The range of services her foundation provides is not very big compared to the number of patients but she said the foundation is trying to do its best.
"Many have stood by us. We are taking initiatives to expand our services, including oxygen."
She urged the affluent to extend financial assistance in this regard.
Sukorma Foundation, which commenced its journey in 2018, is implementing various initiatives for underprivileged people. Its office is at Iqbal Road in Mohammadpur.
Apart from managing contributions from her circle of friends, Suhana also gets funding from some corporations and Zakat donations for her foundation. Moreover, those benefiting from the foundation's services subsequently come forward with financial assistance.
At present, apart from providing door-to-door oxygen support, her foundation is supplying food to 150-200 Covid-19 patients in hospitals and at homes every day. It is also providing counselling as part of mental support to patients.
The foundation distributes iftar items among the poor and passersby. It has supplied iftar and sehri items to 2,000 orphans so far. It recently built classrooms and three washrooms at a girls' madrasah.
The welfare activities of the foundation began during the early stages of the pandemic last year. The foundation at the time donated Tk15 lakh in cash and food to 1,000 rickshaw pullers.
Besides, under the Survival Needs project, it is arranging basic necessities, such as food, clothing and free health care, for rickshaw pullers and day labourers.
Under the Sushasther Dola project, it is providing advice and free sanitary napkins to teenage girls to break taboos surrounding menstruation. As part of another project named Greencart, it has been providing vans and arranging small businesses for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic.