The Indian community in Adelaide have rallied together to raise almost $200,000 to help two young children after their parents were killed in a car accident in India last week.
According to reports, Hemambaradhar “Hems” Peddagamalla and Rama Batthula were on their way to visit Rama’s family after the recent loss of her father, when their taxi crashed into a wall near Suryapet, Telangana, killing them both. The children, 9-year-old Bhavagna and 6-year-old Palvin, were grievously injured in the crash, as was the taxi driver, and are currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Vijaywada.
The massive fundraising effort towards funeral expenses of the parents, medical expenses of the children, and paying off the family’s mortgage was undertaken by the Telegu Association of South Australia (TASA). As of 2 May, they have raised $198,887.
“Both parents have vast dreams and aspirations for their children’s future. Unfortunately, both are no more. So, we hope both children get the life wished by their parents with our helping hands,” wrote organiser Sivaji Pathuri on the GoFundme page.
The couple had lived in Flagstaff Hill, Adelaide for over ten years. Hems is remembered as a lively individual, an active member of TASA who was involved in fundraising, cultural activities, and meetings while his wife Rama worked in child protection and volunteered with children over the weekend.
“In all my dealings with him, Hems was a true gentleman; polite, honest and hard working, as well as an excellent cook,” wrote one donor.
“(They were) our beautiful kind neighbours here in Flagstaff Hill who we will miss every day. Hems often walked up two doors for a chat and even brought us curry to thank my husband for helping his wife in the garden and just any time to share his food. I hope and pray their children will heal in time but it’s a sad loss to them,” reads another comment on the fundraiser.
A member of Adelaide’s Indian community, Sudhir, a GP himself, has flown to Telangana to be with the children. He is currently looking after the kids’ treatment.
Family friend Dr Sridhar Nannapaneni told Indian Link, “It is a terrible terrible situation – one that no parent, no grandparent, no child, should ever have to face. Palvit and Bhavagna are English speakers only, have visited India only briefly, and the grandparents are in no position to play the hospital bills.”
While that is now sorted, six days after the April 25th accident, efforts are underway to bring the children home.
Sivaji Pathuri tearfully told 9News, “They’ve lost their parents, they can’t lose their friends and everyone else here.”
“Many families here are ready to foster them,” Dr Neni added.
This past weekend, the couple were fondly remembered by the community at a service in Lockleys Primary School, where TASA’s Telegu language school is based.
“Some 500 families turned up,” Dr Neni recounted. “It is heartening to see regular mums and dads offering this support – it’s not easy to raise $200,000 in a matter of four days – while community leaders have yet to come forward.”
Dr Neni is appealing to the wider Indian community in Australia to help make representations to the government to bring the kids back home.