Some U.S. lawmakers, tech executives join forces to boost aid; Sewa International USA raises more than $5 million
Our Bureau Washington, DC/ New York
Seeing the devastating spike in COVID-19 cases in India is horrifying. Fr those watching it from the U.S., it is really sad and concerning.For those with close ties to India, that feeling is a gut-punch as people are worried about their families, parents, relatives and even employees.
Unlike some nations that have been able to avoid a new spike in deaths and critical hospitalizations despite recent outbreaks, India is also seeing an unprecedented number of deaths. The country reported nearly 3,500 deaths on Friday alone. Testing kits are also in short supply in India, feeding speculation that the scale of the outbreak is even larger than official reports suggest.
The community is rising to the occasion and trying to send as much help to India as they can.
Some U.S. lawmakers and wealthy technology executives have joined forces to boost aid to India as it grapples with a severe spike in coronavirus infections, with a focus on ensuring aid is equally distributed across the country, a Congress member said.
U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, Democratic vice chair of the Congressional Caucus on India, told Reuters that Indian-American billionaire and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla and other Indian-American tech executives at Google, IBM and Microsoft are working closely with the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India.
The group is trying to match Indian hospitals and other facilities with supplies of oxygen and other urgently needed medical equipment, and pushing the White House to do more for India, the world’s largest democracy, as a surge in infections overwhelms hospitals.
On Twitter, Khosla offered to fund the bulk import of oxygen and other supplies to India. Khanna said Khosla has offered to underwrite the initiative.
Google said on Monday it was donating another $18 million in India for victims and medical supplies, and confirmed chief executive Sundar Pichai was personally donating $700,000 to UNICEF’s India response. IBM did not immediately return calls requesting comment.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest U.S. business lobby, and CEOs from 40 firms on Monday launched a separate task force focused on providing India with critical medical supplies, oxygen and other assistance. It includes a new portal where U.S. firms can offer in-kind donations.
Sewa International USA, a Houston, Texas-based nonprofit that works in the areas of disaster recovery, education, and development has launched a ‘Help India Defeat COVID-19’ campaign to ship oxygen concentrators to Indian hospitals.
As a second wave of COVID-19 overwhelms India’s healthcare system causing an acute shortage of oxygen, ventilators, and hospital beds across the country, several Indian-American organizations and individuals have sprung forward to help.
Sewa International says it has raised $5,784,807, as of April 29, in its $10 million goal in a fundraiser started on April 23, 2021 on Facebook. The funds are being used to procure medical equipment supplies, as well as getting the equipment and essential supplies to hospitals, institutions, and individuals in India, News India Times reported.
Some 2,584 oxygen-concentrators have already been shipped to the country.
Sewa is also providing food and medicines to about 10,000 families and more than 1000 orphanages, and senior citizen centers across the country, according to a press release from the organization.
Sewa’s Vice President for Marketing and Fund Development Sandeep Khadkekar, responding to the overwhelming support for their fundraising campaign said, “We are deeply moved by the response we have received from all of you for our fundraiser. Sewa appreciates your willingness to donate for a cause that would save many lives in India. Our top priority is to procure and ship oxygen concentrators to India as soon as possible.”
The American India Foundation, a leading non-governmental organization in the United States has dispatched 500 oxygen concentrators to Delhi as of April 29, 2021. Meant to “swiftly shore up supplies of oxygen in India’s capital” the supply is in response to the oxygen S.O.S. by the Delhi State government, NIT said quoting an AIF press release.
The AIF is working with local governments, hospitals, and stakeholders to understand the needs from cities to rural villages.“Our 20 years of working within these systems and our expansive network allows us to quickly direct equipment to where it is needed,” it assured those who wish to donate.
Connecticut’s large Indian-American community is raising money and awareness. They’re also dealing with trauma due to being unable to help as family members grow sick or die.“It almost looks like the plague of the 1900s. It shouldn’t,” said Srividya Srinivasan, President of the Kerala Association of Connecticut. “Every household now almost has one person infected. It’s that bad in India.”
Every day the news grows grimmer. Bodies dropped off at families’ doorsteps or burned in parking lots as hospitals and morgues overflow. The charity is pushing a massive fundraising effort hoping to fund PPE, aid, and most of all, oxygen. “In one day, we were able to get to almost $3,000. That is so useful…The resources need to keep coming.”