The loss of a friend and business partner after twenty years was a massive shock to Mahender Reddy. The reason for the loss was all the more heart-breaking. “My friend suffered from Covid-19 in June. The cases were still increasing and lockdowns still imposed in the city,” Mahender said.
As the 36-year-old entrepreneur from Hyderabad shares, his friend Mirza Jaffar, was unable to bring himself to visit a doctor. Mahender said the fear of Covid-19 gripped Mirza so much that he refused to get treatment until the very end.
“By the time he agreed and visited the doctor, it was too late. He passed away, a couple of days later,” he added, speaking to The Better India.
Mahender said soon he and his family contracted Covid-19. “I have two children, and we immediately sought treatment. After getting well, I realised that fear was overpowering the disease. About 99 per cent of people fear the disease, rather than getting treated,” he said.
“There is ostracisation by society. Citizens refuse to help and support each other. Even closed ones refuse to take their friends to the hospital,”
This triggered a change in Mahender, who works in real estate and operates a girl’s hostel. “I did not want to get gripped by the fear and wanted to remove the same from the minds of patients,” he said.
Giving Help to Those with COVID-19
Mahender then decided that he would help patients muster the courage required to take the treatment. Mahender stresses that he believes it is not just the treatment that matters. He feels the care, courage and support shown to patients gives them the confidence to fight the disease.
“I offered people a ride to the Times clinic in Banjara Hills, where I took the treatment. As I learned about friends or mutual friends or someone in family about contracting the COVID, I reached out to them,” he said.
The entrepreneur only offers rides to people through mutual connections. “I do not advertise or post on social media. Only acquaintances agree to take the ride,” he says.
With just a moped, Mahender started ferrying patients to the clinic or any hospital as they desired.
“I used to tell them not to fear and shared my story of recovering from the same illness with them. I often held patient’s hands to show that I was taking the same risk for their sake,” he said.
Building the courage
The Hyderabadi from Ameerpet has ferried more than 100 COVID patients to the clinic in the past three months.
“I ride them to the clinic and sometimes pay for the patient’s treatment. I do not mind as long as the patients recover. Many people also offered me money for giving them the ride, but I refuse,” Mahender says.
Mahender feels that his satisfaction lies only in giving courage and helping COVID patients to get needed treatment. “Patients also get depressed because of illness and that is the time when they need that motivation and courage,” he adds.
Fayaz Baig, a consultant at the clinic in Banjara Hills, said, “Mahender found us through social media and has been consistently helping people get medical help.”
Fayaz confirmed that Mahender has helped over 100 COVID patients reach their clinic so far.
For Mahender, he wants to continue doing his good work. “I am not doing this professionally, but only out of a willingness to help people. I do not need a car to deliver patients. I am a small businessman and happy with what I have,” he adds. (The Better India had offered to try and get him some funding to buy a car if he wished so).
Mahender said that since the lockdown ended, more patients have gathered the courage to go to the hospitals. “Over the past couple of weeks, I directed about 350 COVID patients or their kins with the phone number or address to the clinic without riding them myself,” he adds.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)