The ingenuity of hopeful humanity, from a 27-year-old environmental activist in India to President-elect Joseph Biden in United States. Both have faith that a bright day for weary, afflicted humans the world over must follow a grim winter for mounting victims of the greatest pandemic tragedy (COV-19) this century.
According to Washington Post reporter Taniya Dutta in New Delhi, the activist named Binish Desai agonizes not only over the horrific human pandemic fatalities, but the often-ignored waste it’s generating.
“I have eco-anxiety,” Mr. Dasai explains in a Post interview. When he witnesses waste the pandemic is producing (masks and protective gear often being used a single time then being discarded), “he automatically begins thinking about ways to use that waste to move on beyond the current crisis.”
In September, correspondent Dutta writes, Mr. Desai had come up with a solution: “Take the used protective gear, grind it up, add a little concrete and mold it into bricks for buildings. He and his team have now made more than 40,000 bricks for homes and factories, and is gearing up to produce 15,000 a day.”
A photo in the Washington Post on Thanksgiving Day shows one of the bricks, looking to be 8-10 inches square, mostly white with some dark spots from ground-up masks and other gear. Mr. Desai now has a 20-member team working on the project. India, with a population estimated at 1.3 billion, has the world’s third largest COVID-19 death tolls at close to 140,000. Only the United States (270,000) and Brazil (172,000) have surpassed that.
A sampling of North American efforts to help
Canada Steps Up. At the end of September, Canada pledged an additional $159.5 million in development and humanitarian spending to combat COVID-19. International partners included: the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF (the U.N. International Children’s Emergency Fund), the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Additional programs specifically earmarked for Canada’s aid to help combat included: $40 million for vaccine development, $30 million to address country-specific COVID-19 needs, and $5 million to global health security capacity building.
U.S. Contributions. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic late last year, America has responded to requests for help in coronavirus relief from 111 countries totaling $392 million, as of Nov. 12. The U.S. Agency for International Development has recently announced more than $20.5 million in emergency health, humanitarian, economic and development assistance aimed at helping governments and private philanthropic organizations respond to the epidemic.
The U.S. Department of Defense has helped as well. A 90-bed field hospital donated to South Africa has been built by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) through its humanitarian assistance program. Resources to do this have been transferred to South Africa by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria.
The unique field hospital in Mahikeng, northwest South Africa, was placed on a site selected by government authorities in Pretoria and the province. It consists of two and a half buff colored air-conditioned heavy-duty cloth arches, stretched as roof and siding for the clinic. It was dedicated on October 26. Altogether, AFRICOM has purchased 70 other similarly-designed hospitals for distribution across Africa.
The ultimate aim of North America’s assistance: to contribute substantially to the eventual vaccination of a billion people worldwide once a vaccine or vaccines are approved. That may be hours or days away.
December 1 — this year the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving — was called National Gift Day. I can visualize those buff-colored field hospital tents spanning the vast African continent, north to south, as a lifesaving gift to about 800 needy patients, many of them COVID-19 victims.
As Joseph R. Biden Jr. recently put it in a reference to COV-19 age as quoted by the Washington Post: “Out of pain comes possibility. Out of frustration comes progress. And out of division, unity. In our finest hours”, the President-elect concluded. “that’s what we’ve always been, and that’s who we shall be again, for I believe that this grim season of division, demonization, will give way to a year of light and unity.”
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More