Where there is a heart, there is a way! | My StepOne Journey
When this year, 2020, started, scarcely did one think of how it would evolve. Come March 2020, the whole of humanity was enveloped in a crisis. As my organization declared work-from-home for 3 weeks in a row, followed by a country-wide lockdown which was to start with 3 weeks and continue for 6 months, my head reeled with the impact that an invisible organism was having. The real tragedy however started to hit home as numbers of infections and fatalities shot up, and heart-wrenching stories flew in from around the world and the country.
In the midst of the pandemic I did the natural thing. I started looking out for opportunities to help, so that I could do Something to somehow reduce the suffering. At one point in time, I even considered cooking and distributing food, but was thwarted by the uncertainty of infection, of even identifying the people who needed help and a general chaos all around. And just like the much spoken about Eureka moment, I stumbled (not stepped) into StepOne via a tweet.
StepOne turned out to be the perfect platform for me to use – it was completely digital so I could work from my home, functioned on tie-ups with state/district governments so the target audience was well-identified and managing operations in multiple districts, managing volunteers across citizens, medical college students and doctors gave me direct visibility on the scale of the pandemic in the country and the crucial role our volunteers were playing in helping the Covid+ patients of India directly.
Some wise man said that the journey of a million miles begins with that first step, and I feel very, very blessed to have taken that step of deciding to volunteer with Project StepOne.
There are infinite memories that have been made during this journey, and perhaps one of the seminal moments for me was when one of our doctors was speaking with an elderly patient who had lost her husband to Covid, and now, she had been diagnosed as positive. To add to this, she had a great deal of discord at home, and as a result was feeling extremely anxious, very sad and lonely. I understood better than ever before why an empathetic approach was emphasized during our doctor training sessions.
It was late in the evening, but that did not deter the doctor who had spoken with the patient to call me and express her concern. Since this was not a ‘medical’ emergency, I was not sure if anyone would respond as those were the days when life and death were criteria for providing attention. Nonetheless, I called our point of contact in the Government, and my concern reached her. Immediately, the wheels of the state machinery started moving, and before I knew it, the matter had been escalated. I fell asleep feeling somewhat less anxious, but it also made me think about numerous others that did not know about such services, and wondered how they would manage and navigate themselves through such difficult times. Next morning, I received an update that an officer had visited the patient, and things were now under control. Eventually, the patient recovered, and returned to normal health.
I have been a professional for many years now, and while I have lots of experiences, my being a volunteer at StepOne certainly stands out as one of my most formidable one. It is very, very rare to find such a committed team, with no motives, no interests other than the well being of our citizens. It is a team where unbound autonomy is given to do one’s best, while mentorship and support is also offered at every step to ensure that one can truly leverage one’s potential to create an impact. And, it is even more amazing that this has emerged from just people having a heart, allowing everyone that volunteers to be the most and best they can be. A truly, truly enriching experience, and one that will be etched in my grey matter for years to come. What is equally fascinating is that most of us that volunteer do not know each other, have never met, and all of this magic has unfolded in the midst of such trying and uncertain times. Goes to show, to make a movement, all you need is a heart.
If I were to ever become an author, I think I could write a book about StepOne – about the movement that began with the pandemic, and I think/hope will extend much beyond it. The journey of a million miles as they say, has just begun.