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COVID-19 crisis: US non-profit body Sewa International sends 2,184 oxygen concentrators to India

Houston-based Indian-American non-profit body Sewa International said the oxygen concentrators left Atlanta for New Delhi by air on Thursday

twitter-logoPTI | April 30, 2021 | Updated 09:59 IST
COVID-19 crisis: US non-profit body Sewa International sends 2,184 oxygen concentrators to India

Houston-based Indian-American non-profit body Sewa International, which has raised nearly $8 million towards COVID-19 relief efforts in India, has dispatched the first batch of 2,184 oxygen concentrators from Atlanta. The organisation has also ramped up its social media fund-raising goal from the earlier $5 million to $10 million now.

Sewa said the oxygen concentrators left Atlanta for New Delhi by air on Thursday. United Parcel Service (UPS) Foundation is carrying the cargo free of cost, it added. "Thanks to UPS Foundation for carrying our cargo free of cost, making all arrangements, and giving full cooperation to move the material. India team has lined up supply chain to efficiently distribute this across the country," Sewa International said in a Facebook post.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to India. We are working with our partners to deliver much needed medical equipment. First shipment of over 2,000 oxygen concentrators for Sewa International are on their way," the UPS Foundation tweeted. Gitesh Desai, a spokesperson of Sewa International, said the oxygen concentrators were procured using donations from Indian-Americans to help India fight this crisis.

"Sewa is in the process of building a digital helpdesk to provide critical information on ambulance services, hospital bed availability and blood and medicinal supplies to people," Desai further said. Sewa International said it has volunteers working both in the US and India, coordinating the work of raising funds, procuring medical equipment supplies, and getting these to hospitals and institutions.

Its volunteers in India are preparing essential supply kits to distribute to low-income families. Each kit contains groceries, basic medicines, masks, sanitisers and hygiene supplies, it added.

Responding to the overwhelming support Sewa received for their Facebook fund-raising campaign, the NGO's Marketing and Fund Development vice-president, Sandeep Khadkekar, said, "We are deeply moved by the response we have received from all of you for our fundraiser. Sewa appreciates your willingness to donate for a cause that would save many lives in India."

"The Facebook fund-raising campaign has had such traction as Facebook is working with us to boost this initiative to ensure that Sewa International leverages the trust people have in us," said Viswanath Koppaka, the NGO's director of marketing.

"We have about 85, 000 donors who have supported our Facebook campaign, and it has been a challenge to keep them in the loop of all the work going on behind the scenes. But we also have energetic volunteers pitching in, working late into the night, to do all that needs to be done to keep people informed," he added.

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna thanked UPS for its efforts. "I had a terrific call this afternoon with Penny Naas, President International Public Affairs at UPS. She told me of their commitment to deliver oxygen and vaccines to India and to many other nations. Thank you, UPS, for your leadership during this public health crisis," Khanna tweeted.

New York-based American India Foundation (AIF) said 500 oxygen concentrators are en route to Delhi to swiftly shore up supplies of oxygen in India's capital. AIF is responding to the oxygen SOS by the Delhi government, and the concentrators are expected to reach in the next three days, the foundation said.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton issued a fundraising appeal on behalf of the AIF and other non-profit bodies. "India is facing a surge of COVID cases that threatens to leave as many as 1 million people dead over the next few months. If you can, consider pitching in to organizations helping patients and frontline workers, like American India Foundation or others listed here," Clinton said in a Facebook post.

The VHP of America has sent a charter flight from Chicago carrying life-saving oxygen generators and medical equipment to India. The New York Times on Thursday released a list of NGOs through which Indian-Americans can send relief materials or donate for COVID-19 efforts in India.

Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a Democratic party leader from California, announced a grassroots level initiative with hundreds of volunteers, calling people in India to follow social distancing protocols, wear masks, stay indoors and avoid all gatherings for the next 8-12 weeks. "This will help reduce the load on the broken medical system," Bhutoria said.

Also read: Covid-19 crisis: US to dispatch 20 million of its Covishield doses to India

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