Amid Pandemic, This NGO Is Giving Hope To People In Kashmir Valley

Every morning, dozens of patients and their relatives line up outside the Trust office in Srinagar to get free medicines, ambulance services and financial help for their treatment.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the NGO has been providing free medicines to people.

Since the last four months, Farooq Ahmad Bhat and his NGO, Help Poor Voluntary Trust, have become a beacon of hope for hundreds living in the Kashmir Valley who are in need of medical assistance and have been the hardest hit during the lockdown.

Every morning, dozens of patients and their relatives line up outside the Trust office in Srinagar to get free medicines, ambulance services and financial help for their treatment.

For Mohammad Rafiq, a cardiac patient from downtown Srinagar, Mr Bhat and his NGO have been life savers. "They helped me with (coronary artery) stent implant which costs Rs 80,000. They are helping me with monthly medicines as I have no source of income," he said.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, the NGO has been providing free medicines to poor patients. The management of the Trust said they have over 1,200 patients registered who are getting free medicines and financial help since the past few years. Among them, 250 patients have kidney problems and need regular dialysis.

Mr Bhat said since the COVID-19 outbreak in March, the trust has given free medicines worth over Rs 50 lakh.

"After lockdown, the management decided to provide free medicines to patients suffering from diseases like kidney failure, chronic liver disease, mental disorders...," the founder of the Help Poor Voluntary Trust added.

Abdul Rashid, who came all the way from Lolab in Kupwara district -- 110 km from Srinagar -- as his son was suffering from renal failure, has been receiving a monthly assistance from the Trust.

"They are helping me with Rs 5,000 per month for medicines... We need money for dialysis and medicines," said Mr Rashid.

The Kashmir valley has been largely shut for the last one year now and has crippled local economy and livelihood of people. The longest internet shutdown in the wake of abrogation of article 370 on August 5 last year increased the problems after the government enforced a curfew and complete communication blackout in the Valley.

However, emergency services by the NGO have helped saved dozens of lives even when residents had no access to dial 100 or call an ambulance in Kashmir.

The Trust is also running a non-profit pharmacy where medicines at cheaper rates are available to everyone.

The NGO said all this has been possible because of locals who have made donations.