Esther Ghosh, Head of Grants Acquisition and Management for World Vision India. She lives in Delhi. This text is taken from an interview originally published by New Zealand Herald.
"You’d never wish mourning a loved one on anybody, but grieving is a luxury now in India. A luxury none of us can afford.
"Every day we hear about two or three deaths of people we knew. Not all of them are old. Most are in their 40s or 50s. The other day I heard about an 18-year-old boy who died. They lost three members of their family within two weeks.
"You just don’t have time to process grief when you’re hearing of deaths at the rate we are. You forget that they’re real people – it’s just another death, one more death, two more deaths, three more deaths. I don’t even know when we’ll ever be able to sit down and think and grieve for those people. Even those who have lost family members, they just have to keep going. Nobody has time to sit down and mourn and grieve.
"Right now, everyone is just bottling it in and maybe it’ll be much later that it comes out. The second wave of COVID-19 in India is crippling our already overburdened health system. Hospitals are running out of beds and supplies of oxygen, leaving severely ill patients unable to get treatment.
"It’s terrifying for everyone, especially when it touches your family. Last week my brother, Isaac, got very sick with COVID-19. He lives in Agra, where there’s no oxygen. I knew if he stayed there, he would get no help.
"So, I brought him to Delhi. But the hospital we took him to had no beds. They told us he was in a serious condition and to take him to the emergency ward, but they also had no beds. I was calling everyone I could think of who might be able to help. That’s what everyone is doing all the time. Every day I hear from friends wanting to know if I can help them find a bed. Most hospitals have no beds. Or, if you get a lead, it’s not true. It’s a desperate situation.
"I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere to take my brother. All I could think about was how many people have died because they didn’t get a bed.
"Thankfully, we finally got my brother admitted. But, when he was in hospital, I fell sick with COVID-19 too. And then I was also scared for myself. If I needed it, would I get a bed? Would there be anyone to help me?
"The situation here right now is so overwhelming. There are hundreds of thousands of new cases every day and thousands of deaths every day. The crematoriums are burning day and night. It seems like half the population of Delhi is sick. It’s just so unimaginably bad.
"And this is why we need your help.
"World Vision is doing everything we can to help the most vulnerable children and their families survive this crisis. We are focused on sourcing and providing oxygen, hospital beds and medical supplies across the country. We are providing food for the many people going hungry because of this crisis. We are working to ensure that vulnerable communities can be vaccinated and have access to simple, but life-saving things like sanitiser, soap, and masks.
"Whatever you can do will help someone – someone like my brother. With support from people like you, we will save lives."