Eight-year-old Indian Australian Selwyn doesn’t fully understand the impact of COVID19 on India. But he definitely was concerned by the late-night and early morning phone calls by his parents to their relatives living in India.
When his parents told him they were trying to raise funds to support the COVID relief program in India, Selwyn happily gave his Hawthorn jersey signed by AFL players Jarman Impey and James Worpel for auction to raise money for the relief program.
Melbourne based, Organisation to Encourage People and Step Towards Success (OESS) works towards educating migrant communities.
Many of their members talked about the need to do something and they came up with an idea to organise an auction to raise fund. OESS partnered with “Seva International” to supply the ground relief work in India.
Jasleen Kaur, President of OESS told The Australia Today, “The jersey given by Selwyn was bought for $1500.
“The highest donation of $10,000 was made by a kind-hearted person who doesn’t want to be named.”
“Unisol Foundation donated a Cricket bat signed by Australian cricket player Late Dean Jones which was auctioned for $1000,” said Jasleen.
In total, OESS raised a sum of $20,000 at that night’s auction.
Jasleen says, “Every dollar which we collected has been donated for the relief work in rural India. I couldn’t be prouder of our Melbourne community which always stands tall.”
Just two weeks later 714 kilometres away in Sydney another event was in progress, but this time to provide support to international students from India and Nepal studying in New South Wales.
Care, Connection and Community was the theme for the night with the support of big organisations like Study NSW and the Consulate General of India, Sydney.
Gurnam Singh, the event organiser, is the President of the Australian-Indian Sports Educational and Cultural Society (AISECS).
He told The Australia Today, “International students, particularly from India and Nepal, are continually facing extreme challenges due to the COVID-19 situation at its peak in their respective countries. However, we want to give them a sense of belonging and assure them that they are not alone in Australia.”
“We all need that interaction with community stakeholders post COVID lockdowns for looking after our health and wellbeing but when it comes to international students it becomes much more important.”
Mental health is one of the most ignored aspects of international students life, however, it has the most significant impact on them.
AISECS’s partner for the night Headspace provided information on critical issues like anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and tools to overcome the same by staying mentally and emotionally strong.
Mr Singh who came to Australia as an international student launched a Start-up Program on the night for the individuals who always dreamt of having a start-up but never got the right opportunity to take it forward.
“Through this initiative, AISECS strives to help them in giving their dreams the wings to fly.”
Rajender Pandey is President of Vishva Hindu Parishad in Adelaide world’s third most liveable city.
He told The Australia Today, “Indian Australian community in Adelaide is not very large but their hearts are big.”
“We collected almost $30,000 from religious institutions and another $60,000 from individual donations.”
Mr Pandey says, “Besides this VHP South Australia and its partner organisations have delivered $100,000 worth of groceries to international students in the last 10 months.”
Ballarat is a beautiful lake city just 80 Kilometers from Melbourne with a sizeable population of Indian Australians.
A large number of Indian Australians are professional health care workers. And devastating COVID situation in India was concerning them to the core.
Dr Sanjay Sharma is a Consultant Anaesthetist with Ballarat Health.
He and his healthcare professional friends decided to make a WhatsApp group with a call for donation to the COVIDrelief program in India.
The group which was started with six friends was at maximum capacity within 12 hours.
Dr Sharma says, “Having 250 members in the group was no big deal but the commitment of $100,000 by the group members was of great satisfaction.”
“We have donated the whole amount to “Seva Foundation” to procure Oxygen concentrators and personal protection equipment for front line workers.”
Dr Sharma also has advice for everyone who wants to help and support COVID relief work in India or Australia.
“Please donate to the organisations that spend 100% of the money collected on the relief work rather than spend 30-60% on their administrative structure.”
Coming back to Melbourne, in the western suburb of Rockbank at Shri Durga Mandir.
On the cold Thursday evening in June, Volunteers of the temple are busy preparing hundreds of hot meals to be delivered to people who are affected by the lockdown of Melbourne.
Sukhvinder Kaur works in a hair studio in the Tarneit suburb. She has been self-isolating after been on a Tier1 COVID exposer site.
She told The Australia Today, “I am a single mom and the hot meal delivery by the Shri Durga Mandir is a huge help for me and my daughter.”
“After seeing the food delivery temple poster I called them and every day I am receiving a cooked meal at my door.”
“In case any one isolating due to COVID exposer just call on the numbers given below before 12 pm every day to book for your tiffin and temple volunteers will deliver it to you between 5 pm- 7 pm. Call 03 9747 1628, 0435 374 641,” reads the Sri Durga Mandir poster.