Pascal Saldhanha, 55, and his family have been performing an extraordinary service during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India. The Saldhanha family has so far given free oxygen cylinders to more than 200 patients.
Shabana Malik, who received a free oxygen cylinder from Saldhanha family, said, "My husband had got Covid last month. He needed an oxygen cylinder for 12 days. Then, Mr Saldhanha came to our rescue. He gave an oxygen cylinder to us for free for all those days. He also helped with ration and medicines."
Five years ago, Pascal Saldhanha's wife Rosy had suffered kidney failure. This was followed by her suffering a coma, dialysis and even brain haemorrhage. An oxygen cylinder had to be kept in the house at all time for her.
When the principal of the school in Mumbai's Malvani, where Shabana Malik teaches, asked Mr Saldhanha for help, he and his wife offered their cylinder right away.
Ms Saldhanha went one step further.
"After giving one oxygen cylinder, it struck my wife that many patients of Covid are struggling to avail this basic necessity. My wife said she had some jewellery which they can sell and get money and start this initiative of providing people in need - free oxygen cylinders. I got Rs. 80,000 by selling the jewellery from which we then purchased seven oxygen cylinders and started helping people," said Pascal Saldhanha, who started the campaign "Free Oxygen Cylinder".
Seeing Pascal Saldhanha and Rosy Saldhanha, their younger son Salome also decided to do his bit to help people.
"I started helping with the same requests through Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. When they used to reach me, I used to tell them that Aadhaar card and doctor's letterhead are needed. Then we used to prepare a team and deliver oxygen cylinders at the doorstep of such people. Till now, we have helped 200 to 250 people," Salome Saldhanha said.
It isn't just oxygen, the Saldhanhas have also donated two tonnes of pulses and grains to help people in their area who were struggling for food. What began as a service with seven cylinders in March has now become a campaign. The extraordinary generosity of the Saldhanha family proves that not all heroes wear capes.