In Birmingham, Hanuma Vihari leads Covid-relief work in India


New Delhi, May 14

Cricketer Hanuma Vihari cherishes his feats as a batsman, but his biggest satisfaction these days comes from being able to arrange a hospital bed or oxygen cylinders for desperate Covid-19 patients through a network of friends. The surge in cases during the pandemic’s second wave has created an unprecedented health crisis, and social media has become an important tool to seek and give emergency help.

Vihari, who is in the UK for a stint with county team Warwickshire, has used his Twitter handle to amplify appeals for help. He has also created a team of 100 volunteers, comprising friends, family and social media followers from across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.

Vihari’s friends and ‘followers’ have reached out to people with plasma, oxygen cylinders and arranged food and hospital beds for patients. “I don’t want to glorify myself. I am doing it with the intention of helping people at the ground level, who actually need every help possible in these difficult times. It is just the start,” the 27-year-old said.

Daily obstacles

Vihari left for England in early April to play in the English county for Warwickshire and is expected to join the Indian team directly in the UK when they arrive on June 3.

Vihari is shocked by the obstacles that Covid-19 patients and their families encounter on a daily basis.

“With the second wave being so strong, getting a bed became a difficulty and that is something which is unthinkable. So, I decided to use my followers as my volunteers and help as many people as I can,” Vihari, who has more than 110,000 followers on social media, said. “My goal is to actually mainly reach out to those people who are not able to afford or arrange for plasma, beds and essential medicine.”

Networking

When distress calls and messages for help started pouring in, Vihari wanted to create a network of help-givers and he found support from common people, his own family and Andhra cricket teammates like Prithviraj Yarra. “I have around 100 people on a WhatsApp group as volunteers and it’s due to their hard work that we have been able to help a few people,” Vihari said. — PTI



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