Meet the 9-year-old activist using social media to send oxygen to COVID-19 patients in India
TORONTO -- As India continues to attempt to contain a massive outbreak of COVID-19 that has killed more than 266,000 people, a prominent nine-year-old climate activist is taking matters into her own hands and using her online influence to save lives.
In the last few weeks, Licypriya Kangujam has been sending much-needed oxygen concentrators and other medical resources to COVID-19 patients throughout India who are struggling to breathe.
“Right now, my country is facing the worst humanitarian crisis ever in history due to the shortage of oxygen, medicines and beds,” Kangujam told CTV News Channel on Saturday. “Thousands of people are dying every day, hundreds of children are dying every day.”
Kangujam said the dire situation in India has kept her awake at nights and unable to eat. When she heard on the news in April that people were dying due to a shortage of oxygen in hospitals, she shifted her focus from climate change activism to the pandemic.
“I felt I shouldn't stay silent at home,” she said. “I decided to spend my savings to buy oxygen concentrators to save lives, as many as possible.”
The young activist, who began her climate activism when she was only six, used her life savings and award money she received for her climate work to buy 100 oxygen concentrators that were sent to hospitals.
Since then, Kangujam’s social media accounts have been flooded with requests from strangers begging her to send them oxygen concentrators too for their loved ones. She has used her substantial social media following to raise money through donations to buy more of the machines from China and other countries and send them to desperate families.
“So far, I’ve saved more than 100 lives here and I hope I can do more,” she said.
That’s why Kangujam has been appealing to people around the world to send her donations through Ketto, an Indian crowdfunding site.
On the campaign site, Kangujam said the oxygen concentrators will be directly handed to the families in need without any association from government agencies or private medical colleges and hospitals.
Kangujam has been highly critical of the Indian government’s handling of the pandemic.
“I want the government to announce a national lockdown for a couple of weeks to contain the virus,” she said. “This crisis might not be happening today if our leaders take this crisis as a crisis.”
While India’s two largest cities, Mumbai and New Delhi, reported a drop in daily new infections on Saturday, the government is warning of surging cases in the country’s rural areas where two-thirds of the population live.