An Indian-American NGO has raised USD 1 million to fight hunger in India and the United States amid the the coronavirus pandemic. This translates to 4,700,000 meals for people in the United States and ration kits for 106,000 migrant workers in India that will last them seven to 10 days, said M R Rangaswami, founder and chairman of the board of NGO Indiaspora.
It was a volunteer group in San Jose, California that made the last donation of USD 5,000 after which the campaign fund crossed USD 1 million.
“It is so heartening to see that this is just a group of regular Indian Americans, who are a volunteer group, and are gifting to different non-profits and charities. They on their own decided that this was the best cause,” Rangaswami, an investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, told PTI.
The money raised by Indiaspora through its ‘ChaloGive for COVID-19′ online campaign will be used to provide relief directly to vulnerable population in both the countries.
Contributions given are sent to two beneficiary organisations, Feeding America in the US and Goonj in India. Feeding America is using the contributions to bolster its nationwide network of 200 food banks.
Goonj is using the funds to provide food, dry ration and hygiene kits to displaced migrants in parts of eighteen states in India. In this hour of coronavirus pandemic that has hit both the United States and India, the Indian-American community has resoundingly shown up across the country, said Rangaswami.
“It’s not just donations to Indiaspora. The Sikhs feeding people through langar, young children making masks for healthcare workers, SEWA International making plasma donation matching. It has been an outpouring from across the country, which I have never seen before,”said the California-based venture capitalist, who has closely following communities’ philanthropic activities for long time.
Such an outpouring of support was last time seen during the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, but that time the call was given by the then US President Bill Clinton and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he said.
“Since then, I have not seen anything of this scale (of giving by Indian-Americans),” he said, adding that the community this time is contributing both their time and money.
SEWA International, another non-profit body has raised more than USD 500,000 for its coronavirus relief work.
One of the donations that helped Indiaspora cross the USD 1 million threshold came from Bay-area based volunteer group Aram Sei, whose vision is to support grassroots charities worldwide in the areas of education and healthcare.
“Our team of twelve members is proud to support the ChaloGive fundraiser initiative that helps us make a direct impact to those in need,” said Sangeetha Lakshminarayanan, president and founder of Aram Sei.
“We feel fortunate to be able to make a difference in our country of origin and the country we have embraced and made our home,” she said.
“There was a huge desire in our community to help during this crisis, and we provided an easy way to give. The Indian diaspora stood up and rose to the occasion when the ultimate time of reckoning arrived,” said Indiaspora’s executive director, Sanjeev Joshipura.
“We want to do everything we can to help our country of birth and our country of citizenship. It is not either or, it is US and India,” he added.
On Thursday, Indiaspora also added new partnerships for the ChaloGive campaign. In addition to former Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi, noted philanthropists Rohini and Nandan Nilekani, former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and actor Nandita Das, all existing ‘ChaloGive for COVID-19’ Ambassadors, Indiaspora announced the addition of GiveIndia CEO Atul Satija, and Raj and Aradhana (Anna) Asava, the pioneers of the ‘HungerMitao’ (wipe out hunger) movement in America.
“Having enabled over 10 million meals to-date, HungerMitao is proud to partner with Indiaspora to raise funds for the food challenged in this time of crisis,” said Raj and Anna Asava, who both have a successful track record of partnering with food banks across North America.
“HungerMitao is a grassroots initiative engaging the Indian-American community in the fight against hunger through the Feeding America network of food banks,” he said. “Just as India’s social indices had begun to improve, coronavirus threatens to bring 80 per cent of India’s working population – the informal sector – to its knees,” said Atul Satija, founder of India’s largest donation platform, and Indiaspora’s India partner for ChaloGive.
“We appeal to the huge Indian diaspora to support the immediate needs of hunger and reviving livelihoods before they fall back into extreme poverty, and rebuilding the lives of the less fortunate in the longer term,” he said.
The campaign at ChaloGive.org continues, with a live Facebook rally planned on May 4 at 9 pm EST/6 pm PST on the eve of Giving Tuesday for COVID-19, a media release said. ChaloGive for COVID-19 is the second online campaign by Indiaspora.
Its inaugural campaign was launched on October 2, 2019 on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and concluded on October 8. It highlighted more than 20 organisations with successful track records in areas of poverty alleviation and empowerment, health, and education.
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