Indian American diaspora leads in COVID-19 relief: report

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Rehan Mehmood, director of health services at the South Asian Council for Social Services, delivering a bag of food to a client in Queens, observing COVID-19 social distancing rules. (Photo: South Asian Council for Social Services)

A California-based non-profit organization says the philanthropic impact of the Indian diaspora on COVID-19 disaster relief displays of the power of this community.

The report released July 30, 2020, by the non-profit Indiaspora, which says its membership consists of “Indian diaspora leaders from various backgrounds and professions,” is entitled ‘2020 Indian Disapora in Action: Tracking the Indian American Response to COVID-19’. The report tracks 58 out of the hundreds of organizations and actions taken in the Indian-American community to support COVID-19 relief efforts.

News India Times and Desi Talk as well as ITV Gold, which are part of Parikh Worldwide Media, have reported extensively on Indian-Americans around the United States who rallied through cultural, religious, and social service organizations, not just to support their own members, but to gather resources including masks, funds for buying protective equipment, food distribution to frontline workers and the needy, as well as help organizations in India during the pandemic. These include small and large groups in local communities and towns and cities, mandirs, gurdwaras, mosques, professional organizations like the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, AAPI, and numerous others. The relief efforts were undertaken across age-groups, involving the young and the old.

BAPS Charities has delivered thousands of N 95 masks, and vegetarian hot meals around New Jersey and New York. (Photo: BAPS Charities)
Logo of Sewa International USA

“We feel it is our dharma, or duty, to help others during this time,” Arun Kankani, president at Sewa International, USA, is quoted saying in the Indiaspora press release. Sewa International USA,  not only provides on-the-ground relief, it also began a COVID-19 plasma registry to help physicians treat patients with respiratory failure from COVID-19. “When we saw so many affected, we didn’t feel like we had a choice in the matter.”

One of the groups that has been at the forefront of the response since the onset of the pandemic, Indiaspora said, is the India Philanthropy Alliance. The IPA is a coalition of twelve development and humanitarian organizations working together to mobilize resources and build alliances to benefit India.

“The tremendous outpouring of support for both the U.S. and India has been witnessed across the board from helping to provide meals to migrant workers in India, personal protective equipment to frontline healthcare workers, education through e-learning and healthcare,” says the press release, tracking the work done by 58 non-profit organizations which redirected their effort to pandemic relief and rehabilitation.

“Never before have we witnessed such a united all-out community relief effort amongst the diaspora. One of the most unique aspects we witnessed was the efforts by the next generation of philanthropists through their incredible volunteer efforts,” Indiaspora Philanthropy Initiatives Manager. Gabrielle Trippe, is quoted saying in the press release.

“The actions taken by the Indian Diaspora show they are committed to providing sustained long-term relief during the pandemic and serve as a model and inspiration for individuals and communities across the globe,” the press release noted.

Indiaspora said several of the IPA participating organizations were  founded by Indiaspora members, among them, 360Plus, Arogya World, Achieving Women Equity Foundation, Freedom Employability Academy, Indian American Council’s Hunger Mitao, and WISH Foundation.

Indiaspora said it also recently completed a giving campaign to fight hunger, ChaloGive for COVID-19, targeted at food insecurity issues, and its fundraising campaign raised more than $1.18 million and provided more than 8 million meals through partner organizations Feeding America in the U.S. and Goonj in India.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Indian-Americans in this country are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups with one of the highest household incomes of any community.

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