American India Foundation and NDTV raise $2 million for Indian migrant workers

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American India Foundation and NDTV of India, held a telethon June 14, 2020, raising $2 million to help India’s migrant workers rebuild their lives after being further displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic and steps followed to curtail it. (Photo: AIF.org)

The American India Foundation (AIF), in partnership with New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) held a live telethon fundraiser June 14, 2020, raising $2 Million “to provide effective and holistic rehabilitation of migrant communities in India through health, education and livelihood support.”

The #RebuildingLives telethon was watched live by 300 million viewers on primetime television and digital platforms worldwide, organizers said in a press release.

The telethon featured interviews and commentaries by famous individuals who have actively participated in helping fight COVID-19, including award-winning Indian film actress, Taapsee Pannu; Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, United Nations Melissa Fleming; Eric Falt, director and UNESCO representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives & Sri Lanka; Junaid Ahmad, India Country director at the World Bank; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson, Biocon Limited; as well as key Ministers of the governments of Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.

“AIF is grateful for the overwhelming support the campaign has got both in the US and in India. Millions of migrant women, children and youth have been severely hit by the COVID-19 induced humanitarian crisis and we have to invest in their present today to secure their future tomorrown,” Nishant Pandey, CEO of American India Foundation is quoted saying in the press release. “We are inspired by the strength and resilience migrant families have shown. Imagine what they can achieve if we invest in their health, education and livelihoods now”, he added. More than 40 million migrant daily-waged workers have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 induced lockdown in India and need urgent help to rebuild their lives.”

Among others, the global two-hour event featured a story on 15-year old Doctaren Khadia from Magurpani in Odisha and her journey to becoming the head of the household when the COVID-19 lockdown was first announced in India. Doctaren’s parents are seasonal migrants and work in brick kilns located in a different state. Inspired by such stories, AIF Board members, Lata Krishnan, Harit Talwar and Venkat Srinivasan have committed $150,000 in matching funds, to double the impact of every dollar or rupee donated.

Recognizing contributions made by prominent donors, the telethon featured interviews with Vivek & Vandana Sharma, Pravin Goel, BlackRock’s Managing Director & Country Head, Manu Shah, CEO of MS International, Gary Norcross, Chairman, President & CEO of (FIS),  Anand Ramamoorthy, managing director, Micron India, and Manoj Balachandran, Head – CSR, IBM India & South Asia.

The telethon was part of a 21-day #RebuildingLives campaign by AIF and NDTV. The migrant workers, many of whom have now returned home to their villages, face even bigger challenges in the days ahead as they face the risk of hunger, indebtedness and prolonged unemployment, organizers note.

Attention is required towards a sustainable and resilient rebuilding of the lives of migrant workers and their families through a multi-pronged response, addressing health, education and livelihoods needs – both in the source and destination areas of migration, the AIF said.

The organization has put forward its own COVID-19 Response Strategy which calls fir continuity, retention, remediation and online learning for children, supporting community health workers with knowledge and protection and livelihood support for youth who have lost their jobs. The AIF is continuing the campaign and urged donors to come forward with more by visiting #RebuildingLives microsite or donate through the aif.org. The site allows donations in both Indian Rupees and U.S. Dollars.

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