For India batter Hanuma Vihari, the biggest satisfaction these days comes from being able to arrange a hospital bed or an oxygen cylinder for Covid-19 patients through his network of friends.
While a number of premier Indian cricketers have helped out in various ways, Vihari, while playing for Warwickshire, created a team of around 100 volunteers - comprising friends and followers from across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka - who have reached people with plasma and oxygen cylinders, while also arranging food and hospital beds for patients.
"I don't want to glorify myself - I am doing it with the intention of helping people at the ground level, who actually need every help possible in these difficult times. It is just the start," Vihari was quoted as saying by PTI.
Vihari left for England in early April to play in the County Championship, and is expected to join the India team directly in the UK when they reach on June 3 for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand (followed by a Test series against England).
"Yes, I am a cricketer, well known but I am able to help because of their untiring efforts to reach the distressed. Even my wife, sister and few of my Andhra team-mates are part of my volunteer team." Hanuma Vihari
"With the second wave being so strong, getting a bed became a difficulty and that is something which is unthinkable," he said. "So, I decided to use my followers as my volunteers and help as many people as I can. My goal is to actually mainly reach out to those people who are not able to afford or arrange for plasma, beds and essential medicine. But this is not enough. I would like to do more service in the future."
When the distress calls and messages for help started pouring in, Vihari wanted to create a network of help-givers and he found that support from common people, his own family members and Andhra team-mates like Prithviraj Yarra.
"I have around 100 people on a WhatsApp group as volunteers and it's their hard work that we have been able to help a few people," he explained. "Yes, I am a cricketer, well known but I am able to help because of their untiring efforts to reach the distressed. Even my wife, sister and few of my Andhra team-mates are part of my volunteer team. It's so heartening to see their support."