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How the expat community in India is lending a hand during this pandemic.

Author: Tatsiana Chykhayeva
4 Minutes

How the expat community in India is lending a hand during this pandemic.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It was a sunny Thursday, the 19th of March 2020, when a new uncertain life started for many of us. No, it was not the official lockdown for the Corona Virus prevention in India. Still, we had all been expected the worst with public areas closing down, businesses shutting their doors and police driving around shouting out public announcements that none of us could understand.
The first week of the lockdown was the worst for all. The unusual restrictions played mind games with many. Yes, cooking and cleaning had started full force in every household. Maybe it was due to panic that people tried to get themselves occupied to the maximum.

Many expats remained in India, despite the warnings from their respective embassies to pack and go back, taking the last of the scheduled flights. Why? Because many have families here, businesses, and jobs where they have to handle a lot, including the wellbeing of their employees.
Leaving my husband, my dog, and my work never once crossed my mind. We stayed home. The first few days passed with a lot of wine drinking, cooking exotic meals, and chatting with friends online.

Many expats remained in India, despite the warnings from their respective embassies to pack and go back, taking the last of the scheduled flights. Why? Because many have families here, businesses, and jobs where they have to handle a lot, including the wellbeing of their employees.

Eileen Warner, originally from Scotland, created a small Whatsapp group to raise awareness about the slum school in Okhla where we had been helping for the past year. The school principal had been contacting her to share their struggles with food shortage and lack of basic amenities. So we started thinking.

We did not know what to do, but we knew for sure that the only option would be to do something! Vandana Sinha, the founder of the Webcom Foundation, jumped on the project right away arranging the transportation and the delivery process. Eileen, Sara Singh, from Germany, and I assisted with collecting donations.

The Webcom Foundation is an NGO that focuses on educating and taking care of differently-abled kids from the poorest backgrounds. Post lockdown, the school got shut, and kids returned to the slums. Their parents had been struggling even way before the current situation.

There was no funding from anywhere, but we managed to start work and packed hundreds of atta, dal, rice boxes for numerous families including those in the Okhla Slum School and the differently-abled children. Our friends supported us wholeheartedly, and we are grateful for them. One by one, the participants from events hosted by “Life Talk Delhi” started sending various amounts for this good cause as well as many other kind-hearted people who chose to risk and trust our work. The French School came up with a project on how to raise funds to support us further!

Our friends supported us wholeheartedly, and we are grateful for them. One by one, the participants from events hosted by “Life Talk Delhi” started sending various amounts for this good cause as well as many other kind-hearted people who chose to risk and trust our work. The French School came up with a project on how to raise funds to support us further!

We also came to realize that some people were not only struggling with finding raw materials for cooking, but with cooking itself. Many became homeless and hopeless. Rohan Saraf, the owner of the Roadhouse Café, my husband, do not generally like unsolved situations. So, he gave us a solution; we would start cooking hot meals at the restaurant and distribute it to the needy!

It was our luck to get passes for the NGO car and organize the work accordingly. Many other organizations and individuals also wanted to come on board. Tatiana Bhardwaj, the founder of the “Russian House Foundation,” initiated the project of sewing facemasks at home by the volunteers, found the materials, and arranged it to reach those with necessary skills. Now, Lidiya and Victoria, the two beautiful ladies are doing a good deed from their homes, and very soon those hand-made masks will reach adults, as well as kids. Svetlana, the founder of The Secret Garden Flora, started running a campaign to take donations, and in exchange, she would send a digital bouquet to those who wish to brighten up the day of their loved ones!

Why are we helping? That is the most common question people ask me. We do it because we can. All of us can do our little bit to make the lockdown slightly easier for others.

Why are we helping? That is the most common question people ask me. We do it because we can. All of us can do our little bit to make the lockdown slightly easier for others. Does it matter if you are an expat or not? No, not at all. It is all about helping those closest to you. However, evaluating our progress in the project for COVID Relief in Delhi, it is incredible to see how international our team has grown. We hope it stays this way and that we may continue doing good while uniting our worlds and cultures!

 

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