At this time of writing, the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has infected more than 1.6 million people and killed over 96,000 worldwide. This potentially killer virus Coronavirus took governments, businesses and global communities – by surprise. Feelings of anxiety and fear have spread across parliaments, board rooms and our homes. Despite extensive medical research, there is no evidence as to how this virus is spreading. Till the cure is found, tested and implemented no Government knows how long this pandemic will last.
But fortunately, the Governments and communities are coming together to tackle the huge impact of COVID19- with one weapon – kindness and compassion. many philanthropists, seasoned and new, have taken spontaneous actions. By early March, it was reported that philanthropic giving to combat the Coronavirus has reached unprecedented levels, already topping US$1 billion. But then the scale of this crisis is so much larger than anything else we have seen before.
Among the super wealthy, Bill Gates, who previously warned of the disastrous effects of viruses, has committed around US$100 million to help combat coronavirus around the world. In India, corporate houses have responded to the government’s clarion call to help it fight the battle against the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by aiding.
In India, the Government has established a public charitable trust under the name of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) to assist the needy. Azim Premji Foundation, Wipro, and Wipro Enterprises together committed a sum of Rs 1,125 crore for tackling COVID-19, making it one of the largest such donations among India corporate houses.
Wipro follows in the footsteps of Tata Group, which pledged Rs 1,500 crore to fight the deadly disease. Tatas have also opened their rooms in Taj Colaba free of charge to health workers. Meanwhile, the country’s second largest IT services player, Infosys, has committed Rs 100 crore.
Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic and CSR arm of Infosys said it would partner with Narayana Health to launch a 100-room quarantine facility for COVID-19 patients in Bengaluru.
In Australia the Federal Government and State Government have announced series of economic measures to provide immediate relief to the communities.
However, it has been a double whammy for over 500,000 international students currently studying in Australia. Apart of from the suspension or cancellation of their courses by the educational institutions, loss of part time jobs officially permitted due to closure of many businesses including restaurants have added to their misery. With cancellation of international flights, these students are virtually stranded and are facing serious hardships.
Many community organisations such as Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin (GOPIO) have spontaneously responded to support Indian and other international students. Mr. Harmohan Walia, President stated that GOPIO Sydney Northwest Chapter team has been providing financial assistance by way of two weeks rent to the affected international students through a registration process and many students have started availing of this rental assistance.
Mr. Gurmeet Tuli of Tuli Jewellers and President of Little India Australia said” we are in close touch with Parramatta Council. We had a meeting with them. They have promised ongoing support to us in many ways. We are now engaged with seven restaurants in Harris Park in leading free food distribution to affected International students maintaining social distancing and lockdown schedules.
Our organisation is in touch with the Indian Consul General Mr Manish Gupta for spreading the message to Indian students, but we are also extending this support to other international students as well. Apart from this at Billus Restaurant we have arranged to distribute rice, dal and flour to the needy by registration process”. Gurmeet Tuli added “Our support to community will continue as long as we can”
Hindu Council of Australia through Karma Kitchen and Hindu Benevolent Fund has come forward to help and support the community during this toughest crisis and lock down. They are supporting International Students, Elders and Families in isolation.
Guru Nanak Free Kitchenette (GNFK) volunteers have been delivering free fresh food and grocery for many days to all the needy and socially Isolated people. GNFK volunteers have served healthcare workers at Blacktown Hospital and Westmead Hospital with fresh vegetarian dinner boxes, fresh fruit, cupcakes, food etc in addition to and grocery to international students, socially isolated people and single mums.
Australian Sikh Association at Glenwood Gurdwara and Turbans 4 Australia are also supporting the international students and needy offering Tiffin Service and food packs.
Many popular Indian Restaurants in Sydney spontaneously offered free Dinner boxes and food packs to international students and disadvantaged community members including Saravana Bhavan, Sehaj Indian Food and Sweets, Vegedelight, Royal Sweets. There are many more joining day by day.
To help ease the hardships of members in the community during the measures enforced to counter the coronavirus pandemic, sadhus and volunteers at BAPS centers in Melbourne and Sydney have provided food packages for those in need.
In Sydney, volunteers were joined by state leaders Hon. Dr. Geoff Lee (Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, and Acting Minister for Multiculturalism) and Ms. Julia Finn (Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection, and Shadow Minister for Carers) to prepare these packages for the community members in need.
In Melbourne, sadhus and volunteers were joined by Mr. Craig Ondarchie (Member for Northern Metropolitan Region) in preparing care packages for the community. Across Australia over 450 meals are being prepared and delivered daily to assist members currently enduring hardships.
In Victoria, Australian Bharat Brahman Samaj (ABBS), along with GOD Australia, Vedic Society of Australia, Anand Bhavan, Saravana Bhavan and supported by Mental Health Foundation Australia launched the “Deliver The Dinner” initiative and mobilized volunteers to deliver 100 dinner packs daily to community members who need support due to COVID-19 lockdown.
These are only some examples but, there are many other organisations and community groups supporting the disadvantaged at this time of Covid19 scenario.
Such pandemic of human kindness is a welcome virus!