It is no secret that the COVID pandemic has wrecked economic havoc, crippled occupations and disrupted lifestyles. In this mix of chaos, while public service personnel at various levels were felicitated, crematorium staff were the silent and unsung warriors throughout. Through thick and thin, the contribution of crematorium staff in ensuring a dignified journey for the departed went unnoticed. This caught the attention of Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla.
Throughout the first and second waves of the COVID pandemic, Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla, (an NRI doctor, eminent physician, Chairman and Managing Trustee of the REACH Global Foundation) took it upon himself to supply food and groceries to migrant workers, artisans, the poor and the needy. He was also involved in raising awareness of various safe practices by distributing pamphlets, producing videos etc. Along the way he noticed the selfless actions of crematorium workers. This rang a bell in his mind and moved his heart to act for them.
Crematorium staff were in an especially risky state. Many bodies of the deceased were lying unclaimed, and there was a situation of panic wherein even close relatives refused to claim them and perform last rites for fear of contacting the virus. Crematorium staff were in the initial stages also not included in the list of COVID frontline warriors and hence were not vaccinated.
Even mentally and physically strong crematorium staff required emotional support and additional help as the number of bodies kept piling up. Yet, they went on selflessly with their duties and ensured a dignified journey for the departed. Often, they had to don multiple hats in trying to console relatives, maintain safety protocols, perform the last rites and even do administrative tasks. Yet there were no complaints or lamentations from their side. This shook the core of Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla, who wanted to ensure justice and empathy for these unsung heroes.
The selfless, committed and courageous contributions of crematorium staff went unnoticed by the media, state and central governments, and Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla took it upon himself to ensure that
1) Crematorium staff were recognized as COVID warriors, and their contributions and selfless actions were acknowledged and applauded.
2) Help and support the crematorium staff with daily essentials and provisions through various programs
Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla is a physician-par-excellence with a stellar track record of delivering compassionate care. After his excellent service in the UK, he returned to serve his motherland India as the son of the soil.
As an active Rotarian, through the many contacts over his numerous years of service and his REACH Global Foundation, he mobilized active support in various quarters in ensuring that crematorium staff were recognized. He was the first person to think and work in this direction. It was because of his untiring efforts that the various media avenues and governments at different levels finally took notice and recognized the contributions of crematorium staff and also included them as COVID warriors and essential workers.
Many crematorium staff were from poverty-stricken backgrounds and required additional support. The workload during the pandemic was particularly overwhelming, and the anxiety in many areas was high, especially in meeting their personal family needs.
Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla devised and successfully implemented various programs. As a first step, he, along with various team members, identified different crematoriums around Tirupati and all the staff working there. Considering the unlimited power of youth and teamwork, he tied up with different organizations like the Way Foundation and Kalam Trust, apart from his own REACH Global foundation, in ensuring that the benefits reached the correct parties.
Under his active leadership, guidance and personal financial contributions, the crematorium staff of Govindadhamam LPG crematorium, Sathya Harishchandra crematorium, Balaji colony burial ground, Gandhipuram etc. were each given high-quality essentials like rice bags, groceries, pulses, cooking oil, sugar etc. at different times during the COVID pandemic period.
This helped them tide over a critical phase and ensured that their own families did not suffer in any manner.
Distribution of essential commodities with the financial assistance of Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla, Chairman, Reach Global Foundation
Rice, pulses, cooking oil, sugar, salt, turmeric and vegetables were distributed at the Gandhipuram cemetery in Tirupati in the wake of the Corona epidemic.
Although Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla selflessly credits the entire team, and support from his family, friends and fellow Rotarians, his individual contributions par excellence did not go unnoticed. Various regional Telugu newspapers featured stories of how he contributed in an individual capacity through his REACH global foundation and also worked as a team in different areas to achieve success. They are reproduced below.
Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla’s gestures also set an example for the younger generations. Looking at his interest, initiative and selflessness, his grandson Riaan Lingutla also urged his father Sujeeth and together, they began supporting Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla in the distribution of essentials.
Whether leading from the front, in planning or through financial support, Dr. Ramesh Nath Lingutla continues to inspire and be a beacon of hope in these testing times.