When the pandemic picked up momentum in Tajikistan in April, the University of Central Asia (UCA) donated medicine and related supplies, including health screening equipment, sanitizers and masks, to the Central Regional Hospital in Khorog. They also sent UCA students.
UCA students joined with other volunteers to distribute educational posters on symptoms and precautions of the Covid-19 virus. UCA employees established a Covid-19 Solidarity Fund, and over 100 employees donated one or more day’s salary to provide food and medical supplies to families and hospitals in dire need as a result of the pandemic.
To help prevent the spread of the virus, UCA also set up facilities for 50 observation beds on the grounds of the Khorog campus. With the rise in cases of patients testing positive for Covid-19 in Khorog and the attendant risks for frontline health workers, UCA also arranged personal protective equipment (PPEs) for doctors and nurses.
During the peak of COVID19 outbreak in Tajikistan (May- July) the Khorog community volunteers managed one of the largest COVID-19 response campaigns in the region. They facilitated the purchase, packaging and delivery of 3,600 kg of food, 67 pieces of medical equipment, 84 high-quality hospital beds, essential medicines and other vital commodities worth over USD 22,000. The food, equipment and essential medicines were distributed to the remote areas of Bartang Valley, Roshtqala and Ishkashim districts and Khorog city. The two-month fundraising project, which started in May 2020, was initiated by the Badakhshan community living abroad and fully implemented by young people from Khorog community.
Oraz Yokutkhonov, a 22-year-old medical student who played a leadership role among the volunteers from Khorog, remarked, “Twelve years ago, I was severely injured and lost both my legs below the knees in a car accident, a group of our community volunteers helped me to get back to a normal life. I was deeply inspired by their dedication and passion and I decided to become one myself.”
Oraz and his dedicated team not only found all the essential supplies but also managed to purchase them at a considerable discount. His wide-ranging connections with the local medical equipment providers helped him to find and purchase the necessary medicines and appliances in large quantities even during months of severe shortages in May-July 2020.
Although the pandemic has thankfully subsided in Khorog, the volunteers stand ready in case of any new flare-ups. This dedication has received accolades from the local population and inspired the formation of volunteer groups in neighbouring villages and towns.
This text was adapted from an article published in the November 2020 issue of UCA News.