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NGO in US raises $4.7 million for Covid relief in India

PTI Washington/Houston Apr 28 | Updated on April 28, 2021

The Indian-American NGO to ship 2,184 oxygen concentrators; Indian-American Foundation shipping 50 ventilators

An Indian-American non-profit body has raised nearly $4.7 million through social media towards Covid-19 relief efforts in India as the country battles a severe second wave of the pandemic.

"This is a collective effort that can save lives, defeat hunger, assure distressed people, and help India in its decisive fight against Covid-19," Sewa International USA said.

On Tuesday, Sewa collected a shipment of 2,184 oxygen concentrators to be sent to India.

In less than 100 hours of launching the fund-raising campaign, more than 66,700 Indian-Americans came out to raise over $4.7 million for Covid-19 relief efforts in India, it said.

Over the last few years, Sewa International USA has emerged as the top Indian-American charity organisation in the US.

"Right now, our top priority is to quickly acquire oxygen concentrators and ship them to India as it can save lives. We are also providing support to hospitals run by Sewa's partner organizations to extend their capacity to treat more coronavirus-infected patients," the organisation said.

Sewa's volunteers are working on building a digital helpdesk to provide critical information such as ambulance service, hospital bed availability and blood and medicinal supplies to people, it added.

"As the pandemic is causing economic hardships by forcing partial lockdowns, we are planning to distribute over 10,000 essential item kits to families and assist more than 1,000 orphanages and senior care centres," Sewa said.

"Working closely with our partner organisations, we are also distributing food and medicines to the needy in multiple places," it added.

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (APPI), the largest ethnic medical organisation in the country, on Tuesday announced a nationwide campaign for medical oxygen, tele-consult and educational webinars to help combat COVID-19 in India.

"This is the time for immediate AAPI action. As doctors, we all share a visceral urge to do something about it," said Dr Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, AAPI president.

"We have located a source manufacturer that supplies oxygen concentrators, each of which can save several lives in India. The cost of each unit is around USD500," he said.

"AAPI, with the collaboration of numerous members, has placed orders for securing and delivering 200 oxygen concentrators directly to hospitals in India with the help of SEWA International, a reliable non-profit organisation," Jonnalgadda said.

The US India Chamber of Commerce DFW and the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston – both from Texas – in partnership with the USICOC Foundation shipped out the first batch of 20 ventilators to the Indian Red Cross Society in Delhi to be disbursed to hospitals and field teams in hard-hit areas, a media statement said.

"It is our moral obligation to help India in every way that we can during this time of need. We will continue to provide support as long as it takes to bring the situation to normal," said Ashok Mago, founding chairman of the US India Chamber, who helped coordinate many of the necessary funds for the effort.

Another next 30 ventilators are scheduled to ship out in the next few days.

Jagdip Ahluwalia from the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, who was coordinating efforts from the Houston area, said members of the organisation are coordinating with hospitals, NGOs, medical schools and government bodies in India to make sure the equipment is getting to trained professionals, who can put it to immediate use.

Indian-American Foundation shipping 50 ventilators to India

The US India Chamber of Commerce (USICOC) Foundation and its partner organisations are shipping 50 ventilators to India, besides other medical supplies, to help the country fight the deadly second wave of COVID-19.

The foundation made arrangements to ship 20 ventilators on Tuesday. It will send 30 more in the next few days.

These ventilators will be released to the Indian Red Cross Society in New Delhi for distribution to hospitals and field teams in hard-hit areas, the USICOC said.

It added that the ventilators are battle-tested and are in use in several countries throughout the world.

The Chambers of Commerce, which normally facilitates trade between the two countries, joined forces with the Texas Indian-American population to help the humanitarian crisis back home.

Neel Gonuguntla, president of the USICOC DFW, Jagdip Ahluwalia, founding secretary and executive director of Indo-American Chamber of Greater Houston (IACCGH), and Padma Sri Ashok Mago, founding chairman of the USICOC, teamed up to lead the efforts through the USICOC Foundation.

They raised funds from the Indian-American community to provide critical medical equipment like oxygen cylinders, concentrators, generators and ventilators to India.

"We are happy to help India in every way that we can during this time of extreme need," said Mago, who helped to coordinate many of the necessary funds for the effort.

Aluwalia said they were coordinating with hospitals, NGOs, medical schools and government bodies in India to make sure the equipment was reaching trained professionals, who can put it to immediate use.

Consul General of India in Houston, Aseem Mahajan, has been guiding and facilitating with the logistics part, Ahluwalia said.

Spearheading the project on behalf of the USICOC Foundation and the broader community, Gonuguntla said, "This collective community effort on behalf of dozens of individual donors, community organisations, businesses like DFW International Airport, PGL Logistics, American Airlines, and others, came together like a beautiful symphony of genuine compassion to rise up and meet the need of the hour which is to help save lives and get the pandemic under control in India." The USICOC Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by members of the US India Chamber of Commerce in 2008 to support community initiatives throughout North Texas and to support projects in India that are aligned with the foundation's initiatives.

Published on April 28, 2021

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