Local community rally around children of Adelaide couple killed in India

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After more than a month in hospital after a devastating car crash killed their parents in India, two Adelaide children have been brought home.

In late April, Bhavagna, 9, and Palvith, 6, had travelled to India with parents Hemambaradhar “Hems” Peddagamalla and Rama Batthula after the recent loss of their grandfather. On the way from the airport, their taxi crashed into a wall near Suryapet, Telangana, killing both parents.

The children spent the next few weeks receiving medical treatment and had no idea what happened.

“At the advice of authorities, a member of the community Dr Sudheer Talari broke the news to them only a few days ago, before they were going to leave Telangana. Until then, they thought their parents were in a hospital in Australia,” family friend Dr Sridhar Nannapaneni told Indian Link. “Understandably they’re emotionally drained, but they’re home now where they can grieve properly.”

Since the car crash, almost $250,000 was raised by the Telegu Association of South Australia (TASA) towards medical expenses of the children, funeral expenses of the parents, medical, and paying off the family’s mortgage.

But most importantly, with the children being English speakers with only brief visits to India over the years, and aging grandparents in Telangana who would struggle to care for them, the community rallied together to find a way to bring Bhavagna and Palvith back home to Flagstaff Hill, Adelaide.

“It was important for them to return to their regular lives, to their school, to their friends, to the people here they grew up with,” Dr Neni elaborated.

Dozens from the community waited to greet the children, still in casts, outside Adelaide Airport yesterday. Despite fears of a long legal battle ahead, their return was fast tracked by the Australian High Commission along with the Indian embassy and appeals from South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas.

Dr Neni added, “We’re really thankful to everyone for helping out with this. From financial support and logistics to offering their homes to the children, the community came together so strongly to help.”

READ ALSO: Six men of Indian Subcontinental appearance linked to serious assault in Sydney

gofundme bhavagna and palvith adelaide
Source: GoFundMe

On their flight home, Bhavagna and Palvit were accompanied by Adelaide couple Miriam and Sam Kaladari who have been nominated as their carers for the time-being. Going forward, there will be meetings with the Department of Child Protection and members of TASA to determine the path ahead.

“The children’s grandparents in India have agreed to the current arrangement,” Dr Neni confirmed. “They don’t have their visas yet, but they plan to visit Adelaide soon. Having lost their son and daughter-in-law, they too are going through a tough time.”

This weekend, relevant members of the Telegu Association of South Australia (TASA) will also meet to come up with a clear plan for the funds raised. According to Dr Neni, it will go towards school fees and paying for ongoing expenses in the childrens’ lives like dance lessons and doctor’s fees.

“Sam and Miriam have three children of their own, so we understand if they need assistance. Around 7-8 families in the community have come forward to lend a hand, whether it’s arranging playdates or chipping in for some expenses.”

With 4-8 weeks of physiotherapy still ahead, not to mention processing the grief of losing their parents, at least Bhavagna and Palvith can take comfort in having such a strong support system among their Flagstaff Hill community.

READ ALSO: Hiyaan Kapil, 5, dies hours after being discharged from QLD hospital

Rhea L Nath
Rhea L Nath
Rhea L Nath is a writer and editor based in Sydney. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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