Meet Babin – the youth leader who beat coronavirus, and is now helping others fight the stigma

Babin Mishra, youth coordinator at NRNA Victoria was keeping himself busy with his professional and his social work. Professionally, he was a healthcare worker in one of Melbourne’s hospital, and during his free time, he would help members of the community with their struggles owing to Covid-19.

He was going about his usual routine, when one day when Babin was preparing dinner at home, he faced difficulty smelling or tasting the food. The new development caused alarm. He instantly suspected he had contracted the novel coronavirus, and duly got himself checked.

When the report came, he had indeed tested positive for Covid-19.

Following the report, and because he had other family members at home (including a young child) he was asked to self isolate at a hotel. Today, he is cured, back at work, and during his free time, is helping others in the community.

As a part of the Victorian Nepalese Community Covid-19 Taskforce, he is busying himself with reaching out to other members of the community who have been affected – he shares his experience, extends knowledge about several relief measures, and most importantly he helps remove the stigma associated with Covid-19.

“When Victoria started reporting its second wave of infections, members of the Nepali community too started contracting Covid-19. As a part of the taskforce, I was compiling the data, and was alarmed with the rising number of cases. Furthermore, I was even more concerned when members of the community started to hide the disease – mostly due to fear of being ostracized from the community. However, as a member of the community, firstly, I set an example by not hiding anything, and today advise others to do the same”, Babin shares with Nepalese Voice.

“Furthermore, I encourage others to share their experience – believing it will help remove the stigma”, Babin shares.

Babin Mishra attends a Visit Nepal 2020 program in Melbourne, Victoria in January, 2020. (Image: Jeewan Rashaili)

His story proves true. On Friday, I attended an online informative session organized by the taskforce, and was pleasantly surprised to see few other members of the community currently self-isolating share their experience with the members of the community.

The informative session had more than 50 members all seeking information from doctors, and other people of experience, and a very positive and assuring atmosphere.

Speaking of his own experience with Nepalese Voice, Mishra isn’t quite sure how he contracted the virus. “I am health worker and was reporting to work regularly. I was also active in my social endeavours. It could have been from any of the two places”, he said.

He tells us he experienced mild muscle pain, joint pain, and a radiating pain which would last a couple of seconds. He felt anxious, tired, his chest felt heavy, and his nose felt stuffed. He also felt exhausted and was unable to carry out his daily activities with the same energy as he could when he was well.

He is thankful to the Australian government, the Victorian government, and other community organizations including NRNA Australia for their support. The AUD 1500 Pandemic Support Payment and AUD 300 isolation period payment helped him economically, and relieved him from other undue mental pressure while he battled the virus. In addition, he was also provided with food and accommodation, and an AUD 115 per day for personal expense, all thanks to the Australian and Victorian government.

“Meanwhile, NRNA helped me remain strong, and kept me occupied during my self-isolation period as I worked towards their awareness campaigns”, he added.

When asked if he himself faced any stigma, he said he came out to the community and his family members before there could be any stigma.

When asked what message he has for others who are currently recovering from Covid-19, he advises them to ‘remain strong and to practice breathing exercises, while remembering to drink plenty of fluids’.

“Seek medical help, and when isolating, remember to keep in touch with your friends and family. Video call them. Remember, we have to maintain physical distance, not social distance”, he adds with a smile via a video call.

Today, Babin is cured, and is back at work – helping others. He also ensures to take time out to reach out to the community.

He encourages people to talk about the disease, and their experience to help reduce the stigma. He speaks of his experience with others to help alleviate the anxiety others may be feeling. He provides information about the several kinds of relief measures that one can apply for.

“I am thankful of the efforts by everyone who has helped control Covid-19. Together, and by staying apart, we can fight this disease,” he tells us.

“But along with the disease, we have to fight the stigma too. That can be done with the power of information”, he concludes.