Voluntary organisation "Songshoptok" offered a light of hope for the residents of Cumilla's Nangalkot upazila at the time when approaching Covid patients, even walking beside the house of an infected person, seemed to be a cause of fear for people.
The organisation has been providing various services among general people and Covid patients, including a door-to-door awareness campaign, since the first Covid-induced shutdown started in March last year.
So far, the team Songshoptok has provided services worth around Tk16 lakh in three phases. Their services have reached the doorsteps of 40,000 people in the upazila.
According to the organisation, the team Songsoptok officially started its journey on 23 March, 2020. Within a few days, 266 general students, 13 doctors and 41 medical students joined the organisation. A team leader, with 50 members, is providing services in 16 unions and one municipality of Nangalkot. Currently, the organisation has 1,235 members.
The organisation is conducting these activities with the help of expatriates and self-financing. They also hold various meetings with the affluent people to inspire them to stand beside Covid infected people.
In the first phase, the team Songshoptok applied disinfectants in 16 unions and municipalities with their own funds in March last year. Additionally, the team distributes hand sanitisers to more than 700 people, masks to 2,500 people, conducts public awareness campaigns, raises awareness among returnee migrants to stay quarantined at home and provides daily necessities to them.
For people who are unemployed during the lockdown, Songshoptok provides food assistance. The organisation has distributed food items among 1,600 helpless, poor and day labourers in the upazila by collecting donations from affluent locals and expatriates.
It has so far provided telemedicine services among 650 people. The medical team of the Songshoptok went door to door to provide emergency health services to the people.
In the second phase, a campaign called "Hello Songshoptok" was launched with the funding of renowned journalist Naeem Nizam.
Through the campaign, Songshoptok distributed urgent food, cash, gift items among 94 unemployed middle-class families in the upazila and 60 indigent students studying in various educational institutions. Under the campaign, food items worth Tk1,500 were provided to each person.
In the third phase, Songshoptok launched a free "Oxygen Service" in Nangalkot. The organisation, in cooperation with Nangalkot Patwari General Hospital, delivered oxygen cylinders free of cost among people infected with Covid-19. This oxygen service is still going on through which 75 Covid patients have got free oxygen services so far.
"I moved to the village after Dhaka University closed due to Covid-19. Before the lockdown started, I thought about what can be done to serve the people. At first, we started with just three and got a huge response within three to four days. About 300 people came forward at a time and our activities are going well with the joint efforts," Jahirul Islam, a master's student of Islamic history at Dhaka University, said.
Nangalkot Upazila Nirbahi Officer Lamia Saiful said, "Songshoptok is doing a great job. I'm always trying to be by their side."