Australia’s Indian community pitches in for COVID relief

Donate to appeals launched by Jamia Milia Alumni Victoria, Vision 2020 and ISWA Perth.

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Australia’s Indian community is stepping up to help COVID-ravaged India in its own way.

Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) Alumni Victoria has been first off the mark, raising $4700 in a single day towards a $10,000 goal.

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The Sydney-based Vision 2020 and Perth’s India Society of Western Australia (ISWA) have also announced programs overnight.

Nazish Fatima, media spokesperson for JMI Alumni Victoria told Indian Link, “We are targeting the middle class segment of the population, hoping to utilise our funds towards online doctor consultation, supply of oxygen, provision of medicines, ambulance services and importantly, labs at doorsteps.”

jamia milia islamia alumni
JMI Alumni group (supplied)

To do this, they have associated with India’s Helping Hand Foundation, a reliable source that works on the ground where help is needed, and allows you to track how your funds are being used.

“We are aiming to help communities initially in Delhi, Hyderabad and Gujarat,” Nazish revealed.

It all began only days ago when Nazish and her husband Saad received a desperate call from India seeking help.

“It was 10pm here, and we learned that a loved one in hospital was told to arrange her own oxygen. Apparently the hospital only had three hours of oxygen supply in store.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19 induced oxygen crisis: India out of breath

It’s a call many of us have received from our own loved ones.

Nazish and Saad worked their phones into the night until they organised for a cylinder. It came at a cost of Rs 70,000.

It left them rattled, and wondering what the less fortunate in society were doing to get help.

By the next morning, images of desperation on the streets of India and in the hospitals had hit our news feeds.

“We couldn’t believe this was happening in our India, in our capital city,” Nazish said. “We knew then we had to do something.”

As a media person (of NDTV background), Nazish was able to use her contacts on the ground to help put together a program to help in this hour of need.

oxygen cylinders
India is facing a severe shortage in oxygen cylinders amidst the COVID crisis. Source: IANS

A GoFundme page was launched and the funds began rolling in.

“Our goal is $10,000 for now, but we hope to be doing this as an ongoing program as demand is really high,” Nazish revealed. “Given the magnitude of the crisis, it will be several months before this calamity is under control.”

She added, “What else can we do, but fund raise? And pray. We are praying for India to get better. We are positive.”

The President of JMI Alumni Victoria, Syed Asif Hasan described this time as an “unfolding reality of pain and agony.”

He noted in his appeal, “I’m sure most of us have been affected in some way, directly or indirectly, by the sheer magnitude of (this) suffering. Here is a great cause to help those who are less fortunate than us, and to show kindness and compassion towards our fellow human beings.”

In this month of Ramadan, Ramzan as it is called in India, devout Muslims are marking a month of reflection, sacrifice and kindness.

Hasain urged his compatriots to consider using their zakat funds (mandatory annual donation) towards the cause.

This is the second large fundraiser the organisation has initiated in its short life of six months, the first being for Australia’s bushfire victims.

Meanwhile, Vision 2020 has sent a call out to help source oxygen supplies for selected health care systems in India. It is facilitating the purchase of Phillips oxygenators in India and donating them to organisations that are using them for COVID care. Learn more details here.

ISWA in its India Needs You campaign, leads 51 WA-based Indian organisations in its collaboration with SEWA International Australia to raise funds for COVID relief in India. Online donations can be made here.

READ ALSO: India’s COVID crisis: Should IPL 2021 continue as scheduled?

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Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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