India’s teens pitch in on social media during COVID crisis
Mahi Saraf was stuck at home under lockdown during India’s devastating second COVID-19 surge when she saw the plea for help on her high school WhatsApp group. A teacher at her school in the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon was gravely ill with COVID-19 and needed plasma as blood banks in the Indian capital had run out of stock. After a harrowing, unsuccessful hunt, the patient’s family activated informal Samaritan networks in a desperate bid to secure the plasma.
The 16-year-old high school student and her classmates immediately got on the job. Within minutes, the children combed through shared spreadsheets, found contacts, verified and pursued leads, and updated Google docs in real time until a donor was a found.
“The teacher’s family had tried and couldn’t find a donor. When the kids got involved, it took us 30 minutes to find one,” explained Saraf in a phone interview with France24. “We kids all have social media accounts. The adults are so stressed, they’re trying to get the money for treatment, they have so many responsibilities, we have to pitch in. It’s easier when we have to do one task, we just get down to it.”
The collapse of India’s healthcare system during what is turning out to be the world’s worst COVID-19 wave has plunged the country into a tragedy of unprecedented proportions, leaving citizens to fend for themselves and each other in the absence of state services.