11 May 2021
Volunteers from religious groups across the United States are organizing aid efforts to help India deal with its COVID-19 crisis.
Aid organizations supported by Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other religious groups are assisting in the efforts. Most of the groups have ties to Indian communities in the U.S.
The aid includes oxygen and electrical equipment facing shortages in Indian hospitals. The groups have also raised millions of dollars for other needed supplies and gathered in prayer to provide spiritual support for suffering communities.
Manzoor Ghori is the director of Indian Muslim Relief and Charities. In his words, India's current crisis is both "a human tragedy" and a "personal tragedy." He is one of many in Indian communities in the U.S. to lose relatives to COVID-19 in India.
Ghori told The Associated Press he had so far lost five loved ones, including two nephews, to the disease. His organization has donated more than $1 million to the Indian aid effort. Among other things, the money went to support teachers and provided thousands of medical kits and more than 300,000 meals.
India's latest crisis has pushed the number of COVID-19 cases past 22.9 million, with more than 249,000 deaths.
Kashyap Patel, an Atlanta-based doctor, said India's pandemic has been "catastrophic." At least 12 members of his family became infected and his 73-year-old uncle died.
Patel volunteers in North America for the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha Hindu organization. It has provided 250 oxygen concentrators and several hundred thousand dollars in COVID-19 aid to support India's overloaded health system.
"It is challenging to find hospital beds," Patel said of the situation in India. "It is challenging to find oxygen, to find (modern) medicine."
The U.S. office of Khalsa Aid, a British-based Sikh humanitarian organization, said it was sending another 500 concentrators and 500 electrical transformers this week to New Delhi.
At a warehouse on New York's Long Island, workers prepared numerous boxes for shipping. "In these last two weeks, many of us haven't slept. We've been running our day jobs at the same time," said one of the group's directors, Manpreet Kaur.
"It's been an intense period of time, but for us, it's about giving back to the community," Kaur added. "And the people in India definitely need that support."
In New Jersey's South Brunswick Township, members of the Shri Shirdi Saibaba Hindu Temple decided to organize their own aid effort. So far, the temple has raised about $3,000 to buy concentrators for two hospitals in New Delhi, temple founder Rajesh Anand said.
In New York City's Queens neighborhood, the Hindu Temple Society of North America has been raising money online. It has so far donated more than $50,000 to the India Development and Relief Fund in Washington, D.C., for oxygen concentrators and other medical needs.
Support has also come from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which sent ventilators to Indian hospitals and personal protective equipment to rural communities. The group is also seeking U.S. and Israeli intensive-care doctors and nurses for a telemedicine training program.
Michael Geller is the organization's director of communications and media. "In the efforts that we're making in India ... what we keep in mind is that with each action that we engage in, we can save one life," he told the AP. "And that one life represents an entire world of people who can be impacted," he said.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
catastrophic – adj. causing a lot of suffering or destruction
concentrator – n. a device to reduce the size of a substance and make it stronger
challenge – n. a difficult task or problem
transformer – n. a device that changes the characteristics of an electrical current
definitely – adv. without any question or doubt
ventilator – n. a machine that helps a person breathe
engage – v. to become involved in, or have contact with, someone or something
impact – n. a powerful effect something has on a person or situation