Despite having tested positive for COVID-19, a 34-year-old teacher in quarantine at a hospital in Ladakh is making sure his students don't miss out on learning mathematical formulas or complex algebra problems.
Lodged in an isolation centre in Leh, Kifayat Hussain is voluntarily taking online classes using internet communication tools like Zoom and making YouTube videos for his Class 9 and 10 students. Several people from his village, Chushot in Leh district, have so far tested positive for coronavirus.
"Initially, I did not have any symptoms and was sure that I haven't been infected. But I did not want to risk the lives of students so I got myself checked and unfortunately, I too tested positive," Kifayat told Outlook over a phone from an isolation centre.
Many residents of Chushot had returned from pilgrimage in Iran in February. The village was declared a red zone in March after several cases were reported.
Kifyat's school principal, Stanzin Dawa, told him on May 3 that he too was in the list of positive cases. Dawa says Kifyat was a bit shaken but didn't lose his spirit.
He was then sent to an isolation centre in Maha Bodhi hospital in Leh. "I packed a few clothes and picked up my mobile while leaving for the hospital. I do not know why at the last moment, I picked up note book and stand for mobile phone," Kifyat said. He had been using his mobile to record video lectures, which he later uploaded on his youtube channel.
For the first two days, Kifyat says he felt restless and many negative thoughts crossed his mind. "I was more concerned about the students. I did not want to waste their time as I myself didn't know for how long will I be here. I was looking for options to connect with my students," he said.
Dawa told Outlook that Kifyat is one of the most dedicated teachers he had ever seen in the life. "I asked him since you don't have any symptoms, why don't you start taking online classes. I told him that since he cannot fast during Ramzan, as his immunity won't allow it, this will be the way to offer prayers. He immediately accepted the idea," Dawa said.
School authorities then approached district and hospital authorities to provide him basic facilities like blackboard and WiFi, which they immediately agreed to. On May 5, he started giving online classes through Zoom application.
"Teaching is not just my job, but my passion. When I take classes, I feel refreshed. I feel like I am fulfilling my purpose in life. I couldn't let the virus take away my passion. It didn't want this virus to come between me and my students," Kifyat said.
He takes online classes daily from 2 pm to 3 pm for classes 7th to 10th, which are attended by about 50 students. He uploads lectures on his youtube channel and sends question on whatsapp groups.
"I am constantly engaged as students are always asking questions. They are regularly calling me. I don't feel like I am in an isolation centre. Negativity never came to my mind and even in these times, I didn't let it creep in," Kifyat said.
"If one is put into quarantine, then he or she should seek constructive engagement. We can't waste time. If I hadn't been giving online classes, it is possible that I too may have slipped into depression. People shouldn't take this disease so seriously. I am a sure I will recover and will be tested negative soon," he added.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine