When Ganjendragadkar received a call from his office informing him about an urgent meeting, he was at his wits end. His 85-year-old father was bed-ridden with viral fever and he could find no one to take care of him at such a short notice. Desperate, he decided to check out a Whatsapp group he was added to a couple of days ago.
The decision helped him get in touch with a group of volunteers, who stay with ailing people in times when their family members can’t be with them.
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Since there was no one else, I decided to use Being With You’s (BWY) service. The volunteer stayed with my dad for four hours and gave me updates regularly. She did this for the next three days. The volunteer was very helpful, and I was able to do my work without getting distracted, he says.
When five friends found themselves facing the same situation like Ganjendragadkar’s, they decided to start Being With You, an initiative that enlists the help of a motley crowd that volunteers to become a support system for sick people and those who need hospitalisation.
The Pune-residents Asmita Patwe, Madhavi Thakurdesai, Nitin Thakurdesai, Shrirang Palande, Upendra Pendse co-founded BWY in January this year.
Having a relative by your side makes the patient mentally strong. A family member or a dear friend can be a distraction in an environment of illness, diseases, medicines and doctors. But due to our demanding jobs and tight schedules it becomes impossible to be with a loved one. And all our founding members had been in a similar situation at least once. Thus, we started this service, Asmita tells The Better India (TBI).
Theie WhatsApp group — ‘Bcare4u volunteer’ regularly posts inquiries related to BWY’s services. The group has close to 35 members who volunteer depending upon whoever is available.
As the group works on pro-bono basis, it does not provide any financial aid or nursing facility. However, all the members undergo first aid training by city-based doctor Dr. Mandar Akalkotkar in case there is any kind of medical emergency.
There is a vetting process both for the volunteers and the people who come seeking their help. “We make sure the patient is not contagious or it is not a bluff to ensure the safety of our volunteers,” adds Asmita.
Besides being a companion to a patient in the hospital or at home, the group offers other services too.
For instance, if an elderly is alone in the house and needs to take a walk everyday, a volunteer will dedicate 2-3 hours for the same.
Not every family can afford help. In such cases, it becomes very difficult to take care of the elderly or give them medicines on time. We also take the patients to the hospital for follow ups. If the person just needs someone to talk to, we visit their home, says Shrirang.
BWY’s group of volunteers come from varied backgrounds–homemakers, professionals, college students and even retired professionals.
So far, the group has catered to 40 patients including the elderly and pregnant women.
Fortunately, there have been no problems or disruptions in their activity so far, but mobility is sometimes a challenge they have to face.
Travelling to hospitals which are far away or on the outskirts of the city is challenging. We have had cases where we had to decline our services, says Asmita.
In order to tackle this problem, the group recently started a youth wing led by Prajakta, a third year physiotherapy student. She created awareness in her college regarding the services of BWY and many students happily joined the volunteering group.
“There are so many youngsters who are willing to volunteer and help the society in any way they can. Being With You gave us that platform. Some of the students have vehicles and flexible timings. So they volunteer to go long distances along with the patient. Being in the medical field, it becomes easy for us to associate with the patient’s pain. In return, we get an on-ground learning experience,” says Prajakta.
The volunteers conduct meetings every two months and discuss their experiences and learn from each other, “It is a learning process for all of us. We keep a track of every service in case a similar situation arises. Tracking also helps in replacing the volunteer if there is a need,” adds Asmita.
In a fast-paced world where time has become so precious that people think twice before being there for someone, the noble work done by this citizen-group in Pune restores our faith in humanity.
Volunteer with ‘Being With You’ and help them scale up the impact. You can get in touch with them at: 9372625899 or 917276797124.
Picture Courtesy: Being With You
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)