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The Financial Express

Corona-defying selfless youths  

| Updated: June 22, 2020 22:24:33


Corona-defying selfless youths   

Many people might feel prompted to search for the apt term to define these exceptional youths. The phrase that is expected to occur to most of them is 'Good Samaritan'. Loosely speaking, it stands for the groups of people who dedicate themselves selflessly to the service of mankind.

In fact, there are few terms in English to portray these Bangladeshi youths now engaged in a great task. Repudiated by most, they have taken it upon themselves to perform a challenging task. The job comprises performing all the duties related to the washing and burial of a person who has died of Covid-19. All segments of the job are laden with risk; because the dead persons are the final victims of a highly infectious disease, now part of a global pandemic.

Not long ago a person who has died of novel coronavirus would be found left unattended and neglected at a nondescript corner of a hospital or a residence. It resulted from the spread of the word that mere close proximity with the deceased personwill make one infected with Covid-19. The urge to remain alive would be seen in the people around so maddeningly that in cases none would be found to arrange the ill-fated persons' burial. Even close relatives would be seen mourning a death from safe distance and waiting for venturesome people to come up and complete the important task.

However, the large and reputed hospitals normally perform the task following medical processes. No acquaintances or relatives are seen allowed to come near the body. After completing the last rites as per the hospitals' own arrangement, and fulfilling other requirements, the authorities send the sealed coffins to the designated graveyard. They remain mindful all along that virus from the dead person's body doesn't transmit to the others nearby. According to epidemiologists, the said viruses remain alive in a dead Covid victims' body for several hours.

In spite of these apparently immaculate rituals, the whole exercise lacks human warmth. The volunteer groups of educated youths engaged in these burial processes are aware of the hazards of the conventional burial of Corona victims. They equip themselves with all kinds of protective paraphernalia before approaching a body. But, at the same time, they are not toomechanisedandmaintain the stringent hospital-centric forlornness.

What's obvious, their activities surrounding the burial process are distinguished by a human touch. In place of the dead persons' neighbourhood people, it's them who arrange the funeral prayers, attended by a few blood relatives, at the graveyard.

In the early phase, vehement opposition from the locals would compel the youth groups to look for obscure graveyards. The scenario seems to have changed overnight with the intervention of the local influential persons. Burials of coronavirus victims now take place in the cities' majorgraveyardswithout local opposition. The burial and cremation of non-Muslim dead by the young volunteer groups is now a common sight in Dhaka and Chattogram.These brave and purelycompassionate youths have, indisputably, set examples of a unique kind of generosity in one of the most dreadful phases of the nation. Their humanitarian services can easily be compared to the activities of such groups during the other global pandemics of the past.

shihabskr@ymail.com

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