These women driver partners of UberMedic are helping frontline warriors during the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a number of frontline warriors ensuring the safety and care of people. Doctors, nurses, and essential services personnel are all risking their lives as they perform their duties.
Along with these warriors, women driver partners of UberMedic are also playing a crucial role during the pandemic, tirelessly working day and night to help transport frontline healthcare workers and patients to hospitals. While doing this, they are also risking their own health.
UberMedic women driver partners, Pooja, Samina and Kavita
HerStory spoke to three UberMedic women driver partners from Delhi and Mumbai, two cities that have a large number of people affected by the coronavirus. While keeping all safety measures in place, they report for duty every day without fear, and are happy to be helping others.
Samina Harun Bhokiya, Mumbai
Thirty-five-year-old Samina has been working with Uber for the past five years. For the past month, she has been helping transport essential healthcare staff from their homes to hospitals and back.
When she was asked whether she was willing to be part of the UberMedic team, she agreed immediately. “During the lockdown, I had no income. This would help me get back to my feet, while also helping others,” she says.
Initially, her mother was hesitant about her rejoining work. “I made her understand that all safety measures were in place. There is a safety shield between the driver and the passenger, I sanitise the car after every trip, wear a mask and gloves, and also change them many times,” she adds.
Based in Mahim, she transports staff to Ali Khan Hospital, Nair Hospital, Kasturba Hospital, and others.
Her days are long. She works for 10-12 hours, and often has to wait to pick up staff. But that does not worry her at all.
“I feel like a soldier for the country. Our doctors and nurses are already fighting this battle for the country, and I want to support them,” she says.
However, her biggest ambition is for her 17-year-old daughter. “I want to make sure she has a good education and becomes a ‘big officer’ one day.”
Pooja Kumari, Delhi
Educated till Class 12, Pooja Kumari has been working with Uber for the past one-and-a-half years. She is single and lives with her sister’s family.
Sometime during the lockdown, she received a call from Uber asking whether she would be willing to transport cancer patients to hospitals. She was convinced when Uber officials explained the safety measures. She says, she also felt a sense of pride.
“I feel very proud to be a woman driver partner and even more that I am able to help in its cause of supporting cancer patients during this time. Currently, there are very less ambulances for non-COVID patients, but it’s important not to forget those who are in pain because of deadly diseases like cancer,” she says.
She transports cancer patients from their homes to hospitals, and waits until the treatment is over to take them back.
“I feel very safe driving under the new social-distancing guidelines as Uber only allows a maximum of two passengers to share a ride. I feel safe because the contraption is such that even stray air cannot filter in through this. The passengers too are very cautious - they come fully covered in masks and gloves, and sometimes even sanitise their seats before sitting.”
“I live with my sister and brother-in-law in Jasola Vihar, and pay utmost care to hygiene as I am the sole member out on the streets. My sister keeps a bucket of warm water out for me, and as soon as I return home, I wash my clothes and take a bath before meeting them for tea,” she says, adding that she disinfects her car every day as well.
Pooja works for eight hours a day and travels around 150-200 km, and transports patients to Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, AIIMS, and others.
In the future, she hopes to start a business of her own.
Kavita Schinde, Mumbai
Kavita Schinde has been working as an UberMedic driver partner for a month, transporting essential staff to hospitals.
“When people see me driving a cab, they are surprised, especially in these times. But I get a lot of respect and even doctors appreciate my efforts. This makes me feel happy that I am helping my country during this COVID-19 crisis,” she says.
The 35-year-old single mother has been staying alone, away from her family, for this period because of her work. “My daughter is studying in the tenth standard, and I don’t want to take any risk,” she adds.
Kavita transports essential staff who set up quarantine centres in hospitals and also nurses. She is happy with the safety measures like the plastic shield provided by Uber, sanitisers, masks, and gloves.
“I am lucky to stay in a green zone in a COVID hotspot like Mumbai,” she says, adding, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. If you sit at home, you will naturally feel scared. I am the only earning member in my family and I also have no other option.”
Her family – especially her mother, brother, and daughter, have been extremely supportive of her decision.
“If doctors and nurses refused to work saying it’s a risk, what would we do then? I think it’s imperative to offer our support during this crisis,” she says.
Kavita wants to continue working for Uber. She has big dreams for her daughter, and wants to see her as a pilot one day.
Sharing details about Uber Medic services, an Uber spokesperson said ,“By leveraging our global experience, technology, and network of drivers, UberMedic allows us to facilitate reliable and convenient transport to India’s real heroes, our medical workers, who are helping keep our communities safe.
Uber, at heart, is an entrepreneurial activity, and our driver partners are integral to our business. I want to thank all our women driver partners who have come out at this time to support Uber for a greater cause. We would like to continue onboarding more women driver partners so that they can earn a sustainable livelihood.”