Meet the everyday heroes of the pandemic
A look at some of our Adobe Covid-19 Relief Volunteers.
At the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic’s deadly second wave, Adobe India volunteers have demonstrated an exceptional display of solidarity, courage, and resilience. With the health infrastructure falling short, it was up to the citizens to ensure they could do whatever it took to support their loved ones in dire need.
We interviewed some volunteers who went above and beyond their daily jobs to rise and meet the challenges posed by a deadly COVID-19 wave. Here is a snapshot of our interviews with Archana Naudiyal (Workforce Analyst, Consumer Customer Care), Uttam Dwivedi (Engineering Manager), Amrita Singh (Lead Software Engineer) and Kavitha Bhaskar (Engineering Program Manager).
Q. What inspired you to create the website All-India Covid Resources?
Amrita Singh – I was looking for oxygen and medical support for my parents who, towards the end of April, were suffering from a fever but turned out COVID negative. I was intimidated by the information flooding on social media, and thought to myself that if I, whose parents are not even suffering from COVID, is feeling so overwhelmed by all this information, what would someone who is going through this, be feeling like. Ideally the government should have started a portal where all information was available in one place, but when I could not find any, I decided to build it on my own. The site got amazing traction and was even featured in the national media as well.
Q. What made you start the volunteer group on the Noida Slack channel?
Uttam Dwivedi – I was alarmed by the chaos on the Noida slack channel in early May, where there were desperate pleas coming from employees who were trying to find either an oxygen cylinder, a bed, a concentrator, or even an ambulance for someone in their family. There were requests coming in every 2-3 minutes. I could see folks from Adobe coming forward to help, but that help was not channeled efficiently. Hence, I thought of bringing all the people and resources together in a way that employees don’t have to rummage through all previous threads and have people available who can actively monitor the channel and the database. I made a quick plan and posted it on the Slack channel, and within 24 hours, we had around 20 people working together and had consolidated resources in a single place.
Q. How did the volunteer group come together on the Noida Slack channel and how do you currently look at incoming requests for help?
Archana Naudiyal – I was a part of the initial group of 4 volunteers on the Noida Slack channel, which slowly rose to 30 in 2 days and 100 within a week. As we asked for help, more employees came forward and wanted to help in any way they could. Today, we have leads assigned to each city, and as the spread within the country grew wider, even tier-2 cities witnessing a massive surge have been assigned leads. Now a roster is followed where the volunteers come at designated times and help folks on the Slack channel as well as verify any new information coming through.
Q. What does a typical volunteering shift for you look like?
Uttam Dwivedi – For me, I would spend 7-8 hours of dedicated time on the Noida Slack channel to ensure requests were being looked after and met. Also, I had to ensure that our effort did not derail or slow down, which typically can happen when 70-80 people are working towards the same cause and have a plethora of ideas coming in. Some folks who had initially signed up could not keep up with the task and had to be asked to leave the group so that more active volunteers could be assigned some tasks. So, a lot of time was spent in streamlining our efforts, managing volunteers and verifying resources.
Q. How did you manage volunteering and work simultaneously?
Kavitha Bhaskar – Sitting in San Jose meant I had to rewire my clock internally to sleep when folks in India were sleeping. I could see that the requests would waver down between 2:00 am and 5:00 am, and then is when I would catch up on my sleep. A typical day for me meant I was working at least 18-20 hours a day where the time split between my work and volunteering is almost 50-50. However, I must thank my manager who was very accommodating in understanding how important this was for me and was always supportive and encouraged me to take this forward.
Q. Was there a special moment that you remember during this time or an anecdote that you would like to share?
Archana Naudiyal – An employee reached out to me at 3:30 am one day whose mother was critically ill and was trying to find an oxygen bed for her. Our team tried everything – we physically visited hospitals, checked online, even spoke to the District Magistrate, but we could not find a bed for her anywhere. I then dropped an SOS in another volunteering group on WhatsApp at 7:30 am. A doctor responded asking for the oxygen levels and other information about the patient. He then spoke to the commanding officer at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) hospital, where he was able to arrange an ICU bed. Though, unfortunately, the employee’s mother passed away the next day, she called me and personally thanked me that she was satisfied with the fact that at least she was able to give her mother the treatment she needed at the end. I was moved by the fact that her family had put their trust in a stranger, and it was satisfying that I was able to come through for them in some way.
Q. What are some of the challenges you faced with your volunteer work?
Kavitha Bhaskar – I had to buy a sim card with extended calling credits to India (chuckles). Though I have been part of volunteering groups before as well, I did not know a single person in our India offices. But today, I have developed many connections and know so many folks within Adobe India, which is amazing.
On a more serious note, the conditions in rural India are still bad. Last week, we were trying to get an ambulance for a patient an hour away from one of the big cities in Telangana. It took us 14 hours to get that ambulance, and the patient did not survive. That is an area that the government also needs to prioritize, and we need to work on getting them resources faster as well.
Q. Today, what keeps you motivated to keep going forward?
Amrita Singh – COVID-19 is such an unpredictable disease that we can never be sure that it has fully been negated. There are articles that we see regarding the third wave and now we have cases of ‘Black Fungus’ on the rise as well. So, I am sticking to assisting as many people as I can, and I will keep working towards providing as much support and help as required to the people affected around me. This is a continuous battle that will be won only by the combined will and effort by everyone around us, and we should be willing to step forward and face that challenge.