As the crisis originating from the coronavirus deepens, people, especially the poor and needy, are looking up to their local leaders to deliver. However, in this time of dire need, many local politicians have chosen to stay locked up in their homes, not even checking up on the areas where streets are adorned with posters carrying their faces.
In Barishal city, an exception can be found in Dr Manisha Chakrabarty. Under the banner of Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal, Manisha has been on the frontline of crisis management activities in the city, whether in providing essential health care, preventive measures or distributing essential resources.
During the ongoing crisis, when many doctors have shut their doors, Manisha has opened a health centre to treat patients of the city, said admirer Prof Maksudur Rahman Khan of Kalibari Road.
"Didi not only prescribes us but also arranges for free medicine," said Shabita Rani, who came to the medical centre for treatment on Tuesday. Shabita mentioned that Manisha is well known for her benevolent work for all.
"We are currently operating eight medical centres across eight areas of the city. We have a team of twenty volunteers working at these centres," Dr Manisha said. The team also prescribes patients over phonecalls, she added.
Everyday around a hundred patients take treatment at the health centres.
Besides running the centre, Manisha has also run from slum to slum to assist the people who live hand to mouth, and to raise awareness regarding the virus among slum dwellers and day-wage workers.
"Apa comes to us regularly to make us aware of the effects of the coronavirus. She has shown us how to keep ourselves clean in order to battle the virus," said Shirin Akter, a house wife from Chandmari Slum.
"Dr Manisha gave me a mask and showed me how to keep myself safe from the virus. She has also arranged for some food for my family so that I can stay at home," said Shafiuddin, a rickshaw puller from the same slum.
Manisha joined politics in 2010, when she was still a student of Sher-E-Bangla Medical College, Barishal. From the very start, she has remained engaged in humanitarian work.