Your donation goes directly to our distribution channel in the city of Pune, India to support those most affected there by the COVID-19 outbreak. The focus is on assisting the less financially fortunate as quickly as possible and eliminating unnecessary overhead costs. Assistance parcels are organised and distributed by Vikash Gaurav, a social worker on the ground in Pune. He is contactable on WhatsApp +91 98231 65568 (please message first).
As of April 2021, India has been hit by a second wave of COVID-19 cases, and the city of Pune is now one of the worst affected in the world. Pune is about 150km south-east of Mumbai, with about 7 and a half million citizens.The original Lockdown was one of the harshest implemented globally, with only 4 hours' notice given, leaving many scrambling for food and basics. My involvement began shortly after this, in mid 2020.
In the most severe, initial stages of Lockdown, established charities were sometimes hampered by not being able to risk the health of their volunteers. My friend Vikash had police support to go into the prohibited areas, and I took a leap of faith in transferring a small amount of my own money directly. The video and photographic content you see is what I received from him in return. I couldn’t post the video initially, because somehow, I was embarrassed that *I* could affect so many people and make a difference with only $200.
Vikash was risking his life; I knew what I was asking him to do. We met at a café in 2012, when I went to Pune searching for meaning at an ashram, like many other westerners. The culture, colour and deep spirit is really special and unique to me – particularly the incorporation of the feminine in understanding the divine.
Let’s be honest. India is a large country of 1.4 billion people, and inequality is deeply entrenched, affecting so, so many. A challenge for any government, despite best current efforts. Some fall off the radar, such as migrant labourers who are not yet registered for local ration cards, or those with mental illness. Controversial activist Arundhati Roy observed, "The poor have been excised from the imagination of (India)...This corona crisis sort of exposes the bare bones of what's going on." (ABC Foreign Correspondent, May 2020). It’s hard for anyone to know where to start, not just in providing immediate help, but in sparking a creative vision of something new.
Yet, what I see is a man who courageously went out to despatch food parcels despite his very real fear of COVID and his own broken-down scooter and dire finances. A woman, Sudha, who turned up to oversee the distribution drive even though her husband had died only the day before, leaving her with three kids. This dedication and commitment spells hope to me, and that is worth nurturing. So, I thought, I would just start here, today.
We might not be able to halt the spread of the virus in India, but we CAN let people there know that the rest of the world has not forgotten them. $30 Australian dollars (1,600 rupees) can feed a small family for 10 days. Thank-you to everyone who has already been incredibly generous in donating via the credit card link or via paypal.me/deepgratitude. I don’t even really know what to write on the last line! I’m just grateful that I’ve found a direct way to reach people that I normally never could…join in if you feel the same.
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