All of us want to do good and contribute to our communities. But often, we get stuck in wondering how. "Look around, and you’ll surely find a way!", says Mudita Mithel, a responsible citizen who found a way to do her bit for those who could benefit from her help.
Life for people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is difficult already. Due to the lockdown, movement was restricted for safety reasons. But for those with HIV, it’s gotten tougher as they’re unable to visit the hospital to collect their medicines. Mudita’s mother, who is a doctor with a hospital that treats HIV patients, was dejected knowing they could not collect their medicines. On hearing this, Mudita decided to instead go deliver the medicines to them. Her husband volunteered to join her and they started driving down early mornings and on weekends, to balance deliveries alongside work.
“It’s different in the city. These people live in remote areas. They don’t have such hospitals, or due to the stigma around HIV, they cannot visit hospitals in the vicinity.”
HIV patients need to follow a recommended schedule with their medicines. Any delay in even a single dose can greatly affect their health. Mudita highlighted another challenge that crops out of the stigma – one cannot simply go deliver medicines to their homes. There’s a need to be discreet. The patients fear that if people saw someone come deliver medicines to them, they would become an outcast. People would immediately assume that they’re tested positive for COVID-19, and on denying so, people would decipher that they have HIV.
But Mudita and her husband devised a workaround. They pre-decide a location, one of them stays in the car, while the other gets off and walks to the location. Sometimes, patients walk a long distance to ensure they’re not seen collecting medicines. When delivering, they ensure that they follow all safety protocols, and remind the patients to come wearing a mask. Mudita has been doing the deliveries since over a month and a half, along with her husband and two friends who also joined in the cause. They leave home as early as 5:30 in the morning, to be able to return in time for their workday. Deliveries sometimes take longer than anticipated, since some locations are remote and difficult to navigate without a proper landmark. But they manage urgent ones early morning on weekdays, and remaining, on weekends.
So far, they’ve been able to help over 75 patients across more than 34 locations in Mumbai, Thane, and Raigad districts, including Uran, Rasayani, Khopoli, and Nera, amongst others.
“It’s heartwarming to receive messages from them, thanking us. Some also wonder if a delivery fee is to be paid. Some get teary-eyed on knowing we’re volunteering and so obviously there’s no charge.”
Mudita was always aware of the challenges these patients face – more so, because of the stigma. She often wondered if she could do anything. With the lockdown, she did manage to provide ration to a huge number of migrants, along with her husband and a couple of friends. But, because at work she has been handling marketing campaigns around CSR, she felt a strong need to walk the talk. She wanted to be able to leverage her own resources to help where help would be most needed – and she found that here.
When asked about how her family responded, she said that they were more than supportive. Her mother was very proud and immediately arranged for a letter from the hospital, so they were able to go deliver the medicines without any hassles. Her mother even changed her WhatsApp display picture to show Mudita and her husband ready in their protective gear, and fondly refers to them as ‘my COVID warriors’.
“We asked ourselves – why didn’t we think of this earlier? But we’re grateful still – better late than never!”
Mudita plans to continue until the patients are comfortable to travel again. She’s grateful for this opportunity to fulfil her longstanding desire to support those in need. Like most people, she too used to always talk of doing good, but felt like she didn’t have the time. “This time, there was no excuse. I knew I should help, because I could”, she adds. Times are tough, but she suggests to everyone to look at the positive side. To remember all that this period has taught us – we can have a better, happier future, and the power lies in our hands. If each of us can find initiatives that we can get involved with or contribute towards, we’ll be contributing in a big way.
We are proud that people like Mudita are a part of the Mahindra family. We salute her for her bravery in going out to identify and help people who are in dire need. If you know someone who is going above and beyond to help the community fight this crisis, tag them or share their stories with us in the comments.
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