This is Ramish. He stands at the crossroads between a sequestered village and the rest of the world. That’s because India has been on lockdown since March 24. People in this particular village live day-to-day in normal circumstances. In these days, rumors travel from neighbor to neighbor, sparking more fear than fact.
Ramish guards the barrier that prevents villagers from venturing out where they might find food or family. It’s a precarious position that could bring violence to him. But it’s a job he is willing to do, for the safety of those behind the barricade.
As a well-respected member of communities on both sides of the barrier, Ramish calms the fears of the villagers. He teaches them about safe distancing practices and hand washing. He dispels the myths associated with the virus, myths that keep people from seeking medical care if they get sick.
Ramish is one of our community health workers, and our staff is in constant communication with him. He texts concerns of a pregnant mom into our clinic. Our staff responds with the information he needs to alleviate her fears. He hears about an elderly man with gastrointestinal issues. He gets messages back about home remedies and counsels when to seek help.
But most of all, he talks to each person. He looks them in the eye, from a safe distance, of course, and talks with them. These are people society wants to ignore. This is a village of families that suffer under the weight of discrimination and prejudice. Ramish treats them with respect and dignity.
And that makes him one of our favorite heroes.
Stories are real, all names and photos have been changed for protection, and are representative.