The group of 20 men scattered across the Gulf took two hours to discuss, pool the money, and arrange the materials that have already reached the Kerala police.

Three police men stand at a station wearing their uniforms with face shields for protection against coronavirus
Coronavirus Human Interest Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 16:23

Sanal (name changed) is still in quarantine in Qatar. It’s only been days since he recovered from COVID-19. His wife, along with his baby, have gone to their hometown in Ernakulam. All of them had been infected.

Sanal, now living alone in Qatar, is part of a WhatsApp group of people many of whom had worked together in the Gulf. On Sunday, another member of the group, Sudheer Khan, who was earlier in the Gulf and later came to Kerala to join the police force, was talking about the difficulties that police officials in containment zones in the state have been facing. Someone in the group suggested sending masks. But Sudheer said that they had masks and sanitisers; these were provided by the Kerala Police Association of which he was the treasurer. What they needed were face shields.

The discussion went on for two hours, and before Sudheer could realise what was happening, the group of 20 Non-Resident Indians scattered across the Gulf, including Sanal, had arranged for 3,000 face shields and 250 reusable hand gloves for the police in Kerala.

“Sanal was in quarantine. Some others had lost their jobs. They were not in a very comfortable position to do what they did. But taking out money from their savings, from money they had set aside to build their own homes in Kerala, these people collected nearly Rs 2 lakh in a matter of two hours and sent help,” says Sudheer, emotion clear in his voice.

The conversation had begun as a discussion and initially the men said that they will send 50 to 100 face shields to Thiruvananthapuram, which has been seeing a higher number of coronavirus cases in the past few days. “I teased them to not be so stingy, and then they messaged me privately to say that they were also struggling, some of them having lost their jobs. But then they called home and got money out of bank accounts in Kerala. Someone took the responsibility of collecting it all together. Someone else found a supplier of face shields in Ernakulam. And now the face shields and gloves have already reached us on Wednessday morning,” says Sudheer, who has been working as a civil police officer for five years.

The shields will be distributed in the rural and urban areas of Thiruvananthapuram, and some will be given to the Armed Reserve Camp and Special Armed Police. “We are also sending some to Ponnani, where the situation is critical too,” says Sudheer.

A touched Sudheer wrote about his friends’ gesture on Facebook, "They have proved once again that NRIs are Kerala's backbone, doing this from seven seas away, for our homeland. After all this they say 'Kerala Police is our pride'. Yes, and NRIs are ours!"

Watch: Special vans in Kerala to disinfect Kerala cops on duty

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