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India Is Going Through a Devastating Second COVID Wave. Here’s How You Can Help

PHOTO: PradeepGaurs / Shutterstock

Donate, volunteer, amplify.

The horrific scenes in India are worse than an apocalypse. A queue of patients laying on the sidewalks outside hospitals struggling to breathe, but there are no beds or oxygen for them inside. More queues outside crematoriums that are cremating hundreds per day with relatives waiting with tokens until it’s their turn to send off their loved ones. On social media, cries for help—medicine, oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, and food—have become common. With each #SOS from hospitals begging for oxygen from the state governments and the central government, it becomes clear that the healthcare system in India is broken.

The country set a new world record when it reported 400,000 cases in a day on April 30. It went down to 355,000, but experts believe that it may be due to a dip in testing. The official death toll, which is more than 225,000 across the country, is under-reported, too. The total caseload is over 20 million, according to government data, but it’s expected to be much more in reality. Due to a shortfall of vaccines, the vaccination drive has also slowed down and the country is fighting a war with internet and mobile phones. Since May 1, the country opened vaccines for all above 18 years but, with scarce supplies, it is a long wait to find a precious slot before someone else in a country of 1.3 billion.

The apathy of the state has shocked the country and the message is clear: you’re on your own.

World media has criticized the government for its failure to handle the situation and officials are still trying to cover it up, denying oxygen shortages and refusing to shut down the country. From election rallies to Kumbh Mela (a Hindu religious festival that attracts one million people), all superspreader events were business as usual despite rising cases and death toll. Every day, there’s also courtroom drama making headlines. The Supreme Court made it clear that citizens can’t be penalized for asking for help on social media and the Delhi High Court ordered the central government to allocate oxygen to Delhi or face contempt. Yet, people are gasping for breath, scrambling for resources, making hundreds of calls every day, and dying outside hospitals.

The apathy of the state has shocked the country and the message is clear: you’re on your own.

Amidst all this, it’s the citizens of the country who have stepped up and taken charge. They are the ones amplifying requests on social media, volunteering to find oxygen and medicines, sharing information that can save lives, and donating money to organizations that are on the ground. The Indian Youth Congress President Srinivas BV is tagged on thousands of posts because of his and his team’s quick response—the New Zealand High Commission in Delhi also sought his help recently. Then there’s Chef Saransh Goila who compiled a list of restaurants and home chefs making food for COVID patients across the country; it’s now a platform that’s regularly updated. Gurgaon-based NGO Hemkunt Foundation is offering oxygen cylinders 24-7 to patients, and also has started a drive-through at their headquarters. There are also oxygen langars happening in and around Delhi: gurdwaras that normally feed the hungry are giving them another lifeline.

Help has also come from other directions. Countries around the world are sending aid: the U.S. has promised supplies worth more than $100 million. The UK has shipped 400 oxygen concentrators to the country. New Zealand has given $719,000 (1 million NZ dollars) to the International Federation of the Red Cross, while Russia, France, Singapore, the UAE, and Ireland are, too, sending supplies.

Experts believe that it isn’t over yet. The coming weeks will be hard for the country and it needs more resources to fight this crisis. As people, businesses, charities, and countries come together, there’s a lot you can do to help the nation.

prabhat kumar verma / Shutterstock

Donate

A dollar can go a long way in India (thanks to the exchange rate). If you’re comfortable with it, donate directly to these organizations that are working diligently to assist with the country’s COVID efforts. These are international and local charities, all accepting foreign donations. Check them out and read about their efforts before you donate.

  • UNICEF is delivering critical equipment, oxygen concentrators, hygiene supplies, tests, and PPE kits to care centers and educating communities to stop the spread. You can support them here.
  • Canada and New Zealand have donated to the Indian Red Cross Society which’s working to get critical medical supplies, medicines, and oxygen concentrators to the country. Donate here.
  •  UK-based non-profit Khalsa Aid does valuable humanitarian work in the face of natural disasters and emergencies around the world. Right now, they’re assisting India by providing oxygen concentrators for free to critical patients in the capital. You can donate to them here.
  • Ketto has started a COVID-19 relief fund for Indian organizations and charities. You can donate to Mazdoor Kitchen (providing ration to daily wage workers), India Needs Oxygen (distributing oxygen cylinders), Feeding From Far (providing ration kits to the poor), Mission Oxygen (helping hospitals get oxygen cylinders), Hemkunt Foundation (giving oxygen to COVID patients), and many more.
  • Started in March 2020, Khaana Chahiye is a citizen volunteer group that’s giving meals to migrant workers, daily wage workers, hospitals, orphanages, and old-age homes in Mumbai. According to their website, they have served 4,650,000 meals during the COVID-19 crisis. You can donate to them here.
  •  Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen—which has fed millions around the world after disasters struck—has also started delivering meals to hospitals in Mumbai. Donate here.

You can find more crowd-sourced resources here and via The New York Times’ list here.

Volunteer

There are many other things you can do from miles away without donating a dime. Keeping the dialogue alive on Twitter will ensure that the world doesn’t forget about the crisis in India. Many volunteer groups are looking for people to take time out and lend a hand. Project Ekta is looking for volunteers from the Indian diaspora to help allocate resources from their database to live SOS calls. They particularly want support from North America, Australia, and the UK to cover overnight requests from the country. Doctors in Diaspora is looking for doctors in the U.S. who can volunteer time and connect with patients in India, train personnel, and assist doctors in India.

Your local Indian communities, temples, gurudwaras, and mosques may also be involved in relief efforts. Check with your friends and local groups and volunteer locally in aid work.

Subscribe

Indian media are being careful about their coverage of the crisis (due to pressure from the government), but some independent outlets are showing the true picture of what’s happening. You can show support by following journalists like Faye D’Souza, Barkha Dutt, and Rana Ayyub, and subscribe to The Wire (Indian citizens only), The Caravan, News Laundry, and The Scroll that bring the truth to their readers at great risk.

1 Comments
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jacketwatch May 6, 2021

The husband of one of my nieces in Delhi told me its very bad. There are 2-3k deaths per day in India or more. Very sad.