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Thursday, September 21, 2023

UK charities appeal to help India to tackle second Covid wave

CHARITY appeals have been launched in the UK as India tackles a devastating second wave of the coronavirus.

Individuals and groups have started fundraising to help patients in India. With 3.45 million active cases, the country recorded 357,229 new coronavirus infections early this week, while deaths rose 3,449 for a toll of 222,408, health ministry data showed on Tuesday (4).

Experts say actual numbers could be five to 10 times higher, however.

The British Asian Trust (BAT) set up its Oxygen for India Emergency Appeal, which aims to provide immediate relief where it is most needed. It has raised more than £2 million in under a week, with funding due to help distribute oxygen concentrators to hospitals in need.

Writing in Eastern Eye, BAT’s founding chairman Manoj Badale said the “single most clear and present danger” is the shortage of oxygen availability and supply to hospitals in India.

“There will be evolving needs, but right now the collective effort must be focused on saving lives,” Badale said.

Reflecting on the second Covid wave in the UK earlier this year, Badale stressed the help provided by Indian pharmaceutical companies to help deliver vaccines. “In her time of need, it is only right that the UK and other countries rally to provide India with the support needed to beat this crisis,” he said.

Supporting BAT’s efforts is the British Indian Jewish Association (BIJA), which has raised more than £110,000 for the appeal. The amount raised is equivalent to helping 220,000 patients with breathing difficulties through low-flow oxygen concentrators, BIJA said.

BIJA co-chairs Zaki Cooper and Dr Peter Chadha said they had been “overwhelmed” by the public response.

“India is a very special country to so many in our communities (and) this fund-raising effort shows that we stand in solidarity with the people of India in combating this terrible virus,” they said.

“We will keep going as our traditions teach us about the sanctity and importance of every human life.”

Additional efforts have gone toward building specialist Covid-19 centres in India.

The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK raised more than £500,000 in six days to support BAPS’s Covid-19 relief work in India.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, launched an emergency campaign to support relief efforts in India on April 24.

As a part of this initiative, BAPS began a ‘Cycle to Save Lives in India’ campaign on April 28, a 48-hour, non-stop static relay cycle challenge. It aimed to cover 7,600 km – the distance between London and Delhi – but ended up more than doubling that, so completing a 20,127 km return journey of London to Delhi and back.

As part of a relay, 787 participants cycled during the day and throughout the night from Saturday (1) to Monday (3) at BAPS
Swaminarayan mandirs in London, Chigwell and Leicester.

Their collective efforts, sponsored by more than 13,000 donors, raised over £500,000, which will be directed towards the life-saving relief efforts in India.

The cycles were arranged outside the respective mandirs, following strict social distancing guidelines. They were also sanitised after every use.

Head of the BAPS temple in London, Yogvivekdas Swami, said, “It’s a tragedy anywhere in the world when lives are being impacted by this deadly virus. We have to work together as one human community, because, ultimately, the only way we will be safe here is if everyone
is safe everywhere.”

Donations can be made by emailing donate@uk.baps.org

An initiative by charity Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care (SRLC) has raised more than £200,000 toward a new Covid health centre in south Gujarat.

The centre, located in the Valsad district, is designed to serve hundreds of rural residents who have no access to Covid care facilities.

Initially opened on April 25 with 50 beds, organisers have now announced further plans to expand the centre to 100 beds. All treatment is provided free of charge to those in need.

Funds raised will be used initially to support the new centre and any surplus funds may be used for charitable projects including supporting relief from the Covid-19 outbreak, a SRLC spokesperson said.

PepsiCo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo, on Monday (3) said it has partnered with not-for-profit organisation, Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS) to launch a community Covid-19 vaccination drive and set up Covid care centres.

Under the partnership, more than 100,000 vaccines doses will be provided to communities, to be administered through the local healthcare system, while five Covid care centres will be set up for three months that will be equipped with beds and medical facilities, including oxygen cylinders, PepsiCo India said in a statement.

“India is embattling the second wave of the pandemic and we all are facing a challenging situation. In these difficult times, it becomes even more important for businesses to come together and partner with Centre and State Governments, civil society, NGOs, and healthcare
institutions to support communities in need,” PepsiCo India president Ahmed ElSheikh said.

He added, “vaccination is one way which can help us combat Covid-19 and we are thankful to have partners like SEEDS to front-end the community vaccination drives and set up Covid care centres.”

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