How organisations in Australia are reaching out to India

By Our Reporter
Top row L-R: Amith Karanth, a volunteer from United Sikhs, Sandeep Pandit; Bottom row: The Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni, Victoria

As India grapples with its worst outbreak of coronavirus there has been an outpouring of support flowing from Australia. The country’s worst health emergency is bringing together people like never before. Here is a look at some widespread acts of altruism.

Sewa International Australia

A philanthropy existing in 33 different countries, Sewa International Australia believes it is time to show solidarity to the unreached. “A lot of our initiatives involve disaster relief activities, but obviously this is something that is affecting so many Indians back home,” says Vikrant Thakur, president of the Victorian chapter of Sewa International.

The organisation has started an appeal for funding, “a request for any Indian or individual who feels connected to the country”.

Through this, the organisation hopes to spread awareness among local populations on social media to avoid the spread of Covid-19 and for proper care of the patients. It also aims at providing basic support materials to marginalised and vulnerable people in India for surviving extended lockdowns and restrictions on services. These include food kits, sanitation kits, face-masks and basic first-aid/medical kits. It also hopes to mobilise skilled students trained in healthcare courses like general duty assistant/home health aide to provide support as needed to government hospitals, medical centres, in collaboration with respective state’s health department.

“This is the need of the time,” reflects Thakur, adding, “We have also been approached by few other organisations who want to associate with us because Sewa International also has a lot of on ground staff back in India trying to help people and they have done a few initiatives there. At this point, people don’t know where to get the oxygen for instance, but they have started a verifiable portal updating constantly with their team.”

Thakur says Sewa has a motto of service above self. Its volunteers are not paid unlike most charitable organisations that keep big amount of funds for their own administrative use. “What sets Sewa apart is we work on the three principles based on Hindu values of yagna (sacrifice), dana (duty), and tapa (practice). That having said, we are neutral from any caste or religion.”

Link of funding:

The Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni, Victoria

The Jamia Millia Islamia alumni have significant presence in Australia and its Australian chapter was established in January 2020 under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009, New South Wales. Its founders have come together to raise funds to help underprivileged people in India who need some support due to COVID-19. “Our partner to do this at the ground level in India is an NGO called Helping Hand India. The fund raised will help provide online doctor consultation, supply of oxygen, medicines and labs at doorsteps and ambulance services,” says Vikrant Kishore, one of the founders based in Melbourne.

The Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni, Victoria

“Once the current target of $10,000 is achieved, the funds will be dispersed to the NGO, and other organisations that we are trying to partner with. We will continue our fund-raising, and outreach endeavour once this target is achieved. Another objective is to provide support to individuals here in Melbourne who are unable be with their families during this unprecedented crisis. We are in the process to set-up a help-group for international students as well,” says Syed Asif Hassan, President, JMI Alumni, Victoria.

Says Yasmin Siddiqui, an alumna, “COVID-19 situation in India is going from bad to worse. The country’s health system is near collapse. We can’t fix what’s happening in India but surely can make a difference through this fundraising campaign, which is in line with one of the objectives of our association to identify and support the underprivileged.”

The Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni, Victoria

Adds Naazish Fatima, “India is battling a catastrophe like never seen before. People are dying not just due to COVID but due to shortage of resources. This pandemic has affected our community at every level. People have lost their jobs and businesses have collapsed. Through this fundraising we aim to help people who are suffering financially due to the pandemic. This is the least we can do for our people right now.”

Link of funding:

United Sikhs

An affiliated, international, non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian relief, education, human development and advocacy organisation that aims to empower those in need, especially disadvantaged and minority communities around the world, United Sikhs is head-quartered in New York. United Sikhs started its Australian chapter in 2009.

To help tie over the current crisis in India, the organisation is securing few hundred oxygen cylinders (bottles), which it is refilling and allocating to the most vulnerable.

“We have approximately 100 Oxygen concentrator and are providing support to the needy in greater NCR Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad area. Our teams are working tirelessly to get more supplies for oxygen cylinders, cans and concentrators.

We require donations urgently to provide more cylinders, cans and concentrators.” Jasvinder Sidhu, Melbourne-based political activist and university lecturer, who works closely with United Sikhs.

“Humanitarian action is intended to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity during and after man-made crises and disasters caused by natural hazards, as well as to prevent and strengthen emergency preparedness for when such situations occur. The Sikh Aid team provides non-partisan global humanitarian disaster relief services, which not only provide immediate aid, but also long-term rehabilitation and help communities and individuals in need.”

Link of funding:

GoFundMe Australia team

As the urgent calls for oxygen and medical supplies are heard across the country,

GoFundMe Australia has launched a verified of fundraisers supporting India’s COVID-19 relief efforts. The organisation has revealed that Australians have donated over $50,000 to global relief efforts via GoFundMe so far.

Nicola Britton, Regional Manager at GoFundMe Australia says, “As Australia’s Indian diaspora community watch their home country battle the virus, Australians are taking action into their own hands.

“Australians have donated over $50,000 to verified GoFundMe pages to help India, with over 50 fundraisers launched to deliver critical oxygen supplies, help charities on the frontline and families in need. This show of solidarity is just the beginning.

Sandeep Pandit

“Australians giving generously to India’s evolving COVID-19 situation join a global movement to help with relief efforts. Over 23,000 donations from 77 continues have flooded in to help India on GoFundMe.

“As fundraising momentum continues, our Trust and Safety experts are working around the clock verifying fundraisers and helping to safely deliver donations to those on the ground.”

“We’re in touch with a number of Australians fundraising to help from Masterchef contestant Sandeep Pandit supporting a number of organisations, clothing brand Alcana supporting workers in Madhya Pradesh, and the Pilli family who had both parents fighting COVID in hospital,” adds Grace Wearne, Communications Manager, Australia.

Link to funding:

India Australia Exchange Forum (IAEF)

The India Australia Exchange Forum is a not-for-profit organisation with the objective of building a strong business, cultural and political ties between the two prominent democracies of the world—Australia and India, through its biggest asset, the people.

IAEF works with Indo-Australian businesses, community organisations, government organisations to further enrich government-to-government and business-to-business engagements. The Forum was formed in 2016 and ever since its formation have worked on a number of government of India’s charitable schemes such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Namani Gange, Clean drinking water, etc.

“The situation right now in India is heartbreaking. In the past one month, there has been an increase in the number of infections and deaths on a daily basis. Due to the increased number of cases, many people have lost their loved ones and others are struggling to receive basic help due to lack of hospital beds and oxygen supply,” says Amith Karanth, Forum head.

Amith Karanth

“Many want to provide help and support for residents in India during the second wave of Covid however they are not sure where or how to contribute. The government of India, the state governments along with a number of NGOs are doing the best they can to support people during this tough time. So, the Forum has tied up with PM-Care Fund, a trust created by government of India, it is running a number of initiatives to strengthen the fight against Covid-19,” says Karanth.

So far:

  • 3,100 cr spent on ventilator and vaccine development.
  • Roughly 2/3rd of Indian population (80 crores) will receive food-grains free of cost for next two months.
  • Around 2,200 cr spent on vaccination drive.
  • 551 oxygen plants to be set up (Oxygen plants in every district)

“The best way to help the current situation in India is to donate generously to the PM-Care fund in the fight against #Corona. We are encouraging our friends and other fellow Indians to donate directly to PM-CareFund. The flyer and details are shared on social media and various WhatsApp groups. We have received an overwhelming response with people reaching out to us with donations,” says Karanth.

IAEF encourages people to donate directly to PM-Care funds.

Link to funding

For those having trouble donating through the page, the Forum is also collecting and contributing on their behalf (see poster).

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