With deaths due to COVID-19 rising across Bangladesh, we are faced with another grim reality – bodies of those who died of the disease are left unattended or unclaimed. Bereaved families are not being able to bury their loved ones with full rituals due to the fear of exposing themselves to the virus.
Amid such uncertainties, a group of young volunteers from Rahmate Alam Samaj Shebha Songstha have come forward recently to provide funeral services for those who have died of COVID-19. The organisation is founded by Ataur Rahman, a former district judge.
Once they receive a call from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), they contact the concerned hospitals, collect death certificates and prepare for the funerals, in accordance to the respective religions of the deceased. They also wash, clean and dress the bodies. As of this writing, they have performed the last rites of 170 persons. The burials are performed at the Rayer Bazar and Khilgaon graveyards.
The team strictly follows the safety guidelines provided by World Health Organisation, when they step out. The volunteers use washable PPE, two surgical masks, examination gloves, boots and head covers, added Zarif Kabir, the secretary of the organisation. For further protection of their family members, all volunteers wear masks at home, when necessary.
Additionally, the organisation also provides free medical services by specialised doctors over phone calls. The team further plans to use their connections and transport services to provide medical facilities to confirmed and suspected patients of COVID-19.
During the month of Ramadan, the team distributed food items across different locations in the country.
Rahmate Alam Samaj Sheba Songstha was established to extend support to Madrassa teachers and Imams of different mosques in different districts across the country. The organisation aims to make them self-dependent by providing them with business opportunities and taking responsibility for the general education of their children. Till date, they have established sixteen madrasahs and two mosques in Shariatpur. Additionally, they have built a mosque in Noakhali and a mosque, along with a madrasah and a graveyard in Tangail.