VAO by profession, social worker by heart


Express News Service

VIRUDHUNAGAR: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. -Matthew 7:12

It was an ambulance that Prithviraj was in dire need of in 2011. He wanted to transport the mortal remains of his brother to his hometown of Aruppukottai. However, it wasn’t easy to find one. 

A decade later, he runs two ambulances and it’s no exaggeration to say that it’s formed an important tool in the fight against Covid-19 in the area.  ‘Prithviraj’ is the name that comes to the mind of officials and public alike, when they are in short of an ambulance to transport Covid patients. Adding to it, his is the name they remember when other essential activities distribution of food and taking care of children in CWC homes are to be carried out. 

Rajesh Udhavum Karangal distributes food
to the needy on Sundays | EXpRESS

Durai Prithviraj (35) is the Village Administrative Officer by profession but he is a social worker at heart. Though his journey as a social worker started during his college days, his brother’s (Rajesh) untimely death in a road accident in Madurai opened his eyes. 

“He died because an ambulance didn’t arrive on time. We could not manage to get hold of a hearse van or an ambulance to bring back his body to his hometown. We were asked a lot of money. I wanted to do something so that nobody faces this kind of pain,” says Prithviraj.

In a bid to immortalise his brother’s memory, he started a trust named Rajesh Udhavum Karangal: an Aruppukottai-based NGO in 2014 to take care of educational needs, medical needs and other volunteering services. He also started saving money for an ambulance in 2011 and managed to purchase one in 2018. It’s been out on the streets ever since, helping people. “By June last year, the number of Covid cases had started increasing. There was a shortage of ambulances by July. We decided to utilise our ambulance for the purpose immediately. He got hold of another ambulance capable of moving four patients at the same time thanks to a good Samaritan. 

While preference is to those who don’t have the financial means, anybody can utilise the services. “We can see private ambulances demanding double or triple the regular fare to take Covid patients to Madurai. We do not charge anything for those without money. We accept donations and minimal amounts from those who can afford the money, so that our service continues for the poor”, he adds. 

Five to six volunteers are involved in moving Covid pati­ents. They purchase PPE kits with donations and with support from higher officials in the district, as he is a VAO. Pr­ithviraj was awarded the Chief Minister’s Special Aw­ard for his service during the battle against the virus last year.

This time one of his ambulances the one with four beds has been temporarily handed over to Virudhunagar Medical College Hospital (VMCH) owing to shortage of ambulances there. “The number of cases are rising rapidly and the ambulance allotted to VMCH has not arrived yet. As soon as the hospital contacted me, I handed over the vehicle within two hours. It doesn’t matter who runs the vehicle,” he says.

How to reach
To contact Rajesh Udhavum Karangal Trust or to avail the service of the ambulance or hearse van, one can contact 9842122046 or 7010763134. The numbers can also be contacted if there is an excess of food available in Virudhunagar, particularly in and around Aruppukottai; or for educational or medical needs.

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