Scotland-wide effort sees India Covid crisis appeal hit target in 30 hours
By Nan Spowart, Journalist, published in Sunday National 2nd May 2021. Click here for full story on Sunday National
HORRIFIC scenes of people dying in the streets of India from coronavirus have sparked a fund raising campaign in Scotland that reached its target in just 30 hours.
A total of £10,000 has now been collected so far by the emergency appeal launched last week by the Sikhs in Scotland organisation.
Director Charandeep Singh, whose cousin’s husband died last week from the virus after being unable to get treatment in the overrun hospitals, said he was “overwhelmed and humbled” by the response which had come from people of all backgrounds and communities in Scotland.
“Some of the first donations that came in were from outside the Sikh community,” he said. “We had people contacting us through the Sikh Food Bank, sending messages of support and asking how they could help so we decided to launch the appeal.
“We only launched it on Wednesday and would have been pleased to reach our target of £5000 but the response has far exceeded our expectations and has been a Scotland-wide effort. I am overwhelmed and humbled to know that people are with us and we are not alone – Scotland always shows solidarity with the rest of the world and it has done it once again.”
He said the crisis was a huge worry for the many families in Scotland with relatives in India, including his own.
“We lost a family member last week,” said Singh. “My cousin’s husband, who was in his thirties, tried to get treatment at a few hospitals but was unable to and he passed away. She has been left on her own with two children.
“Around half of my mother and father’s family are in India including my gran, aunts, uncles and cousins so it is a hugely distressing situation. People are worried and fearful, not just about the virus but the fact that the healthcare system has collapsed, oxygen is running out and critical health supplies are depleted.”
Singh said many Sikhs living in Scotland were so distressed they could no longer watch the news.
“They can’t process it. These are cities that we know, streets that we know, so it is very close to our hearts.”
Singh said the Indian Government had lost control of the situation after boasting only a month ago that they had beaten the virus.
“They let their guard down and people are now paying the price. The health care system has collapsed, people are dying outside hospitals and there are harrowing images of outdoor crematoria that have been created because of the volume of funerals that are taking place.”
The official death toll is now running at over 3000 each day with new cases approaching 400,000 daily.
SINGH said the crisis was even more serious than has been officially reported.
“It is easily double from what we are aware as many people are not registered in the system,” he said.
The Indian Government now needs to urgently take steps to stop the spread, roll out the vaccine and combat vaccine hesitancy while the international community needs to increase supplies of oxygen, vaccines and medical supplies, according to Singh.
The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) Coronavirus Appeal has been extended to include India and the funds raised by Sikhs in Scotland will be coordinated through Khalsa Aid and the DEC.
Singh (below) said his family in Scotland were in touch with relatives in India every day and they had been given hope by the fact people were fundraising here.
“They can see the world is watching and standing up to support them,” he said. “We should not lose sight of how international solidarity can transform people’s spirits and their resilience.”
The donation link to the Sikhs in Scotland appeal can be found on their website’s homepage: www.sikhsinscotland.com. Access to the DEC appeal is at www.dec.org.uk.