These two little boys captured my heart on our last group tour of India. I wonder how they are faring today, with the Covid crisis raging in India. Though the numbers are coming down in the cities of Mumbai and Delhi, the country needs our prayers, support and supplies in this extraordinarily difficult time.
Organizations in the U.S., Israel and India are in emergency mode to combat the spread. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), in coordination with the Indian Jewish community and its local partner, SEWA Cooperative Federation, shipped three Israeli-made ventilators, each costing about $10,000, to Indian hospitals in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. One of the hospitals, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Panvel (a town outside Mumbai), treats Jewish patients from the Bayiti Jewish Old Age Home. JDC is offering counseling to the Jewish communities in India as well as pick-up and drop-off services for elderly community members who need help getting to and from vaccination centers and assistance booking an ambulance.
Oxygen concentrators have been distributed to public health centers around Ahmedabad, which has a Jewish community of about 100, and health kits, filtered masks, and other medical supplies are being distributed in hard-hit villages to help upwards of 20,000 people.
Local women entrepreneurs who are part of the SEWA network are being trained on best practices for COVID prevention and use of oxygen concentrators to aid their communities, and a special medical advice helpline has been set up for local women to call in. WhatsApp audio and video messages about COVID prevention, treatment, and care options have been deployed in areas with growing infection rates, and American and Israeli doctors are providing support to Indian ICU doctors and nurses and helping to set up telemedicine services in rural locations.
IsraAID, an international Israeli-based humanitarian aid NGO, has joined Gabriel Project Mumbai, a Jewish-run NGO supporting education, empowerment, health and hygiene in the Kalwa slums and the rural villages near Mumbai. GPM's Operation CoVER, Corona Virus Emergency Response, is providing necessary care, emergency groceries and health and hygiene kits to low-income families living in hard-to-reach locations, and coordinating with local health authorities to ensure rural hospitals and Covid care centers have the medical equipment, supplies, medical professionals, and personal protective equipment for frontline workers. Currently there is about one doctor to every 50-100 patients in these rural areas. GPM will also be setting up medical camps within the villages for testing and increasing access to vaccinations, hoping to reach an estimated 70,000 people.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry is dispatching thousands of oxygen generators to India, among other medical gear items. UJA Federation-New York, the largest Jewish federation in the United States, approved four grants totaling $200,000 to JDC; GPM; IsraAID, and the Afya Foundation, which sends medical supplies to communities in need.
Please support these efforts!
Gabriel Project Mumbai
JDC Delivering Ventilator. Harshbir Singh/Bombay Arthouse.