Covid-19 warriors have been at the forefront of fighting stigma, discrimination and challenges associated with the Covid-19 disease over the past ten months. And one such warrior, an apathbhandava in the true sense, won the Popular Choice award.
Meet 38-year-old Asif Apathbhandava, who runs a rehab centre for drug addicts and mentally ill in memory of his late mother Maimuna at Mulki, provided outstanding Covid relief to patients and their families. He, along with his team, volunteered to give a dignified burial or cremation to Covid-19 victims.
Recalling an incident, Asif said. “A woman had committed suicide by jumping into a well after contracting coronavirus. There were 300 to 400 people, including fire personnel, when I reached the well. No one was willing to retrieve the body. I went down without even donning a PPE and brought the body out of the well,” he said.
He is also an ambulance driver who provides services free of cost. Asif had ferried a one-year old baby girl in his ambulance from Mangaluru to Bengaluru in a record four hours. “She had a heart condition. I brought her to Jayadeva hospital in record time. I don’t know how I managed to drive so fast in traffic, but I did it,” he said.
Asif was moist-eyed when Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan called out his name for the readers’ choice award. He kissed the stage before receiving the award from the minister.
“Before DH recognised me as a changemaker, I was a household name in my hometown Mulki. Now, I am known nationally and internationally,” he said.
Asif’s only wish is to buy a piece of land for his foundation so that he doesn’t have to pay the rent every month. “I need two lakh to run the rehab centre every month. Donations would be helpful,” he said.