Telugu filmmaker forms COVID-19 team for tele-support, receives over 500 callers

The team consisting of volunteers and doctors offers round-the-clock support to callers.
Telugu filmmaker forms COVID-19 team for tele-support, receives over 500 callers
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Hoping to do their part for society, a group of doctors and volunteers from the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have come together and formed a team to help people during these testing times.

Sai Rajesh, a Tollywood filmmaker is the one who decided to put the team together. Using his influence on social media, he put together a team of volunteers and doctors to launch a campaign to help people.

Sai Rajesh

Explaining the initiative, Sai Rajesh said, “Initially, we decided to use two hashtags on social media: #COVIDTSHELP and #COVIDAPHELP. All those who tweeted using the hashtag, their tweets were retweeted by my friend and followers by tagging the concerned officials hoping that action would be taken. When we realized that most calls for help went unanswered, I thought of another campaign. I asked interested volunteers to come forward to form a team. Soon, we had five doctors and seven volunteers. Among the five doctors, one was a senior doctor and others were junior doctors presently in their final year of their PG.”

“We didn’t want to put the numbers of the doctors on a public platform as we didn’t want them to be spammed with calls. The 7 volunteer’s numbers were put out and they are the ones receiving the calls,” Rajesh said.

Karun Kumar, one the volunteers, said, “Each volunteer chose a convenient slot. I am a software engineer, I chose a slot in between my work hours. From 1 PM to 4PM I answer calls. On average, each caller receives around 20 calls per day. We have never met any of the others on the team. Sai Rajesh is the common point who got us all together.”

Throwing more light on the type of callers who phone in, Karun said, “On the first day, people called to check if the numbers were really working. Slowly, the pace picked up. We note down the names and details of the callers. When the doctor is free, we connect them on a conference call. Most callers are those who are worried about contracting COVID-19. Most often they just need to be assured that they are fine.”

Kuldeep, a volunteer based out of Visakhapatnam said, “I am an electronics engineer. I am presently preparing for civils. I am glad I could be a part of the team. The volunteers act as a bridge between the callers and the doctors. The satisfaction that we are able to do something to help those in need is matchless.”

The names of the doctors or their numbers are not revealed anywhere. Speaking about the efforts, Rajesh said, “We have volunteers working in shifts round-the-clock. At night, we receive more calls. We are now receiving calls not only from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana but from Chattisgarh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu as well. Our campaign has no name. We didn’t want it to be restricted to a particular group. We wanted it to be a people’s campaign. My name is also not mentioned on the poster. We put it out on social media and it got wide publicity. People shared it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp too.”

It has been one week since Sai Rajesh and his team began connecting calls. They have received more than 500 calls so far. They are elated that they are able to provide basic help and guidance to people through their efforts. Those mentioning serious symptoms are asked to approach a testing centre to get tested or for further treatment. Slowly but effectively, call after call, the team continues to make a difference to someone out there calling up for help. 

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