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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Unfazed by mounting debt, Telangana farmer wants to hit the road again to spread Covid awareness

The awareness campaign and his own Covid treatment cost the farm labourer from Karimnagar district over Rs 5 lakh, which he now owes several people.

Written by Rahul V Pisharody | Hyderabad |
Updated: May 25, 2021 6:35:07 pm
Bamandla Ravinder had set out on a journey to spread awareness about Covid-19 in March last year. (Express Photo)

On March 26 last year, 40-year-old Bamandla Ravinder set out on a journey to spread awareness about the coronavirus disease and protocols to contain the infection. With two loudspeakers attached to his bike, the farm labourer from Chimalakuntapalli village in Telangana’s Karimnagar district crisscrossed the state, covering a distance of 15,000 kilometers over the next 100 days.

On May 8 this year, Ravinder tested positive for COVID. In the next few days, his wife Sangeetha (32), son Ajath (12) and daughter Akshara (10) also contracted the virus. While the family recovered quickly, Ravinder had to be admitted to a private hospital on May 18.

The initiative to create awareness about the viral transmission and his own COVID treatment cost him over Rs 5 lakh, which he now owes several people.

“I had difficulty in breathing and was hospitalized for a week. The bill came up to Rs 3 lakh. During my journey last year, I had borrowed around Rs 2 lakh. Now I don’t know how and when I will repay all of this,” Ravinder told over the phone from home.

When the second wave of coronavirus was imminent and a complete lockdown was looming large over the state in the first week of May, Ravinder was gearing up to restart his tour to educate the public.

“This time around, I had plans to visit more places including neighbouring states. There were days last year when I traveled over 350 km from dawn to dusk,” he said, adding that a lot of people had appreciated his voluntary service.

Through the songs, he appealed to people across hundreds of villages and towns to stay at home and not gather at public places. He informed them about the need to wear masks, maintain social distance, and reminded them about the havoc it wreaked in countries such as Italy, Spain, China, and the USA.

Ravinder was discharged from the hospital on Monday. Unable to afford the treatment, the family had sought financial assistance from well-wishers and philanthropists including actor Sonu Sood recently.

“I don’t mind the mounting debts, I will have to work and repay them. Once I am fit, I want to go out to serve the public in whichever way possible,” he added.

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