Hyderabad: Many bereaved families are facing multiple challenges in performing last rites with dignity, ambulance and funeral services people are charging exorbitantly. Neighbours and relatives are turning hostile in some cases whereas kith and kin are shunning from providing decent last rites.
In a first, the NGO launched a complete last rite service for COVID & Non-COVID deaths. First, such professional service in the Muslim Community Funeral Transport for crematoriums and cemeteries also COVID, is causing a double whammy for bereaved families. At times even the own kith and kin are shunning their own to give a dignified farewell.
While many are shunning the dead, city NGO, Helping Hand Foundation, which has been taking up various relief works in the COVID pandemic has come forward to take up a first of its kind, complete last rites services for COVID & Non-COVID cases.
This will be the first such professional services in the Muslim community launched at the most crucial juncture during the pandemic, where families are facing many challenges right from arranging transportation to performing all the rituals required for a decent burial. Everyone in the process is demanding higher than normal charges for their services by taking advantage of the situation.
HHF, has put to use a fleet six of their ambulances in which a recently launched brand-new TATA WINGER, BSVI model one of the first ambulances to be launched in South India with the state-of-the-art features has been added to the fleet costing Rs 16.5 lacs.
The ambulances will run 24 x 7 from hospital to home and from home to either graveyard, the crematorium cemetery and each of them will have collapsible stretchers, plastic sheets to cover the stretcher and will adhere to the highest sanitation standards in ensuring the safe disposal of the bodies as per the central government guidelines for pandemics. All the vehicles will be connected by GPS and will be monitored through a dedicated HELPLINE (Tel # 9603540864/8977898706).
HHF, has tied up with various Muslim socio-religious organisations, Masjids and Markaz which have facilities for last rites, and other voluntary groups who will assist in performing the last rites as per the religious rituals within the pandemic guidelines at the graveyards. Most of the Muslim COVID deaths are being done at the Balapur graveyard specifically marked for corona deaths. However, despite being overwhelmed, other graveyards are accepting coronavirus cases too.
“The Full services will be provided for performing the last rites as per Muslim traditions in which the body is given Gusool as per pandemic guidelines, transported to the graveyard, funeral prayers (Namaz-e-Janaza) is performed and the deceased are laid to rest in the grave,” said Mr. Fareed Faheem, Manager Admin, HR & Logistics, Helping Hand Foundation.
All the drivers operating the ambulance have undergone training on emergency medical operations, have been equipped with PPEs, disinfectant sprayers, garbage bags for disposal of Lenin and PPEs, Water Cans, soaps for washing and every ambulance after each trip will be fumigated at the NGO head office time to time, this is to ensure that highest safety, sanitation and protection standards are followed as per the central guidelines published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI.
A nominal charge of Rs 3000, not exceeding Rs 5000, depending on the distance will be charged to cover the cost of PPEs, masks, disinfection, sanitisers, drivers’ salaries and fuel at no profit no loss basis. They will be free for the weaker sections.
“There is a sense of fear and stigma in handling the last rites, we are seeing the same trauma for even for non-corona deaths and we thought it is important to help the distressed families in this crucial hour in arranging the last rites with dignity,” said Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari of Helping Hand Foundation.