The global coronavirus crisis has flipped everyone’s lives upside down. Some have lost jobs, some are stuck far away from their loved ones, and everyone is uncertain about the future.

But this crisis has hit some communities harder than others. Daily wagers, many of them migrant laborers, have borne the brunt of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the midst of this, some extraordinary people have gone above and beyond to help those less fortunate than themselves.

Meet Abhishek Tiwari, a community worker in Rajasthan, who is living a life of rare courage and empathy in the fight against the coronavirus. Tiwari, a fellow at Rajasthan-based education management organization Kshamtalaya Foundation, is passionate about providing children in underprivileged communities access to quality education.

When the lockdown hit Kotra town where he was posted, he and his team suddenly noticed hundreds of families did not have food for days. Abhishek and his team joined hands with the administration, voluntary organizations, and local public representatives to provide rations to these people. So far, they have delivered relief material such as ration, masks, and soap to more than 700 families in Kotra.

But the story is far from simple and the journey was anything but easy. 

Kotra has a population of 500,000  people with a low literacy rate. So Abhishek and his team’s first task was to educate the townspeople about social distancing norms and debunk some a lot of misinformation about COVID-19. 

“They believed that if they went to the hospital, then the police and doctors would take them somewhere far away, give them an injection and kill them,” says Abhishek. “We realized this place needed an awareness program. We started talking to them about the coronavirus, how it spreads, how to prevent it, and what measures to take if one gets coronavirus. We were able to run this program in 11 panchayat regions of Kotra. Through awareness programs, we helped reduce some of the fear in people’s minds.”

The challenges didn’t end here. 

While Abhishek and his team were collaborating with administrators, representatives, and self-help groups for resources, delivering them to far-off families was still a massive task.

“The houses in Kotra are spread out over a large distance. Someone lives on one hilltop and another lives on another hilltop,” he says. 

“Due to lack of transportation, delivering these packets to needy families became a challenge. To solve this challenge, I walked 12 km to meet the administration and arranged for one vehicle and delivered food to the people.”

Abhishek has shown remarkable resolve in the face of crisis. His resilience, problem-solving skills, and ability to bring people together during a crisis make him one of Harappa’s 10 Habit Heroes. The initiative recognizes and celebrates everyday people who have walked the extra mile to help the less fortunate during the crisis. 

US psychologist Frank Farley distinguishes between two kinds of heroism: ‘big H’ heroism and ‘small h’ heroism.

Big H heroism involves performing dramatic actions at the risk of your life or freedom. Small h heroism is about everyday actions such as helping people out or showing kindness and don’t involve any personal harm or risk.

We all know about Big H heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi, who risked his life and freedom and led a non-violent movement for India’s independence, and Nelson Mandela, who led the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and spent 27 years in prison. We also recognize and honor soldiers who give up their lives in war as heroes.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the definition of hero forever. Harappa’s Habit Heroes are Big H heroes in every sense of the word.

Abhishek is a hero rooted to the ground. He is rooted in his values of teamwork, kindness, and hard work. “At this point, these people were helpless; so it was our moral duty to make sure some relief materials reached them in time,” he says.

Abhishek Tiwari is one of 10 Harappa Habit Heroes. Meet all the Habit Heroes here and learn more about the work of other Habit Heroes here and here.

Ragini Thakur is a Specialist with the Curriculum Team at Harappa Education. She is a postgraduate in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She enjoys old Hindi songs, books meant for kids and all things food.

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