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The recent visuals from India, gut-wrenching, paint a picture of the despondency and despair currently being experienced by the citizens.
Headlines such as “India gasping for oxygen” tell the story of the health and social systems struggling to battle the pandemic.
With over 400,000 daily infections and over 250,000 deaths to date and counting, the tragedy that has befallen India is in plain sight.
Seeing images of overcrowded hospitals, mortuaries with bodies, and make-shift funeral pyres on rooftops, the world at large is feeling the pain and anguish of India’s people, and responding with both prayers and action.
To the Australian government, thank you for your material aid towards medical facilities in India. These are in dire need and will help save lives.
Thank you for commencing repatriation flights from India after assessing the health risks. The 9,000 plus Australians stuck there must have the opportunity to come home.
To the media, the lawyers, the human rights activists and the many community groups who raised their voices at the unjust penalties of prison terms and fines, thank you for your support.
To all the states of Australia, especially Victoria, Queensland and NSW who have agreed to take additional repatriation flights, thank you for your compassion.
I am beholden to the everyday Australian who has been sensitive to the pain that their Indian-Australian colleagues and friends are going through. I have grappled to come to terms with the ever-narrowing circle of those we are losing in India: a few weeks ago, it was a friend of a friend, now it is someone I have spent time with, laughing and sharing a meal on one of my many trips to India. I wake in the morning to scroll through WhatsApp notices of yet another death in the extended family, or school community, or university cohort.
For most Indian-Australians, what is most difficult at this time is the inability to be physically close to our loved ones as they experience their bereavement, in some cases multiple times in the same family.
Lately, the messages of support from Aussie friends have been comforting as they reach out to offer their wishes and prayers to me and to those going through these tough times. Phone calls even from distant Aussie acquaintances who saw India in the news and thought of me and my family. Strangers stopping me in the supermarkets and confirming my Indian heritage, and sharing their concerns and wishes for India. To these people, my profound gratitude.
To the wider community here, who have dug deep and helped many charitable organisations caring for people in India, our gratefulness. These are individuals who have set up GoFundMe pages; small groups of people requesting donations; small businesses collecting funds to assist communities in India. There are those organising vigils in support of healthcare workers in India, and others who are ready to offer their professional time towards telehealth services directly to people in the small towns and villages.
To all these selfless volunteers, a heartfelt thank you.
The challenges in India are ongoing, and prayers for the many suffering, will help.
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