The Timaru Herald
Helping hand for helpless
Members of South Canterbury’s Indian community who are struggling with the loss of family and friends through Covid-19 in their former homeland have launched a fundraising campaign.
Members of South Canterbury’s Indian community are struggling with the loss of family and friends in their former homeland through Covid, and feel a sense of helplessness.
Because the border is closed, the Indian community has formed a collective representing different regions of India and has set up a fundraiser titled, Help India Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, to provide medical resources for their country.
The collective is supported by the South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society and Multicultural Aoraki.
Shweta Kulkarni said the situation in India was ‘‘very bad’’ and the whole country was suffering.
Two of her friends in their early 30s died from Covid in Maharashtra, the west part of the country.
One of her friends died on the same day as her own mother, leaving behind a one-month-old baby and five-year-old, she said.
‘‘We can’t help any other way, people are dying from a lack of resources, this (fundraising) is the least we can do. If anyone can be saved it will be a blessing for their family.’’
She said the first wave of Covid affected older people, but this second one had killed younger people.
‘‘It’s a threat to anyone and everyone, no one is safe.’’
The second wave of the pandemic has been associated with the rare infection Mucormycosis (black fungus).
Prasuna Parachura said her friend in Hyderabad, in the Telangana State, Southern India, died of black fungus and also her 45-year-old cousin who seemed to have recovered from Covid but died from black fungus two weeks ago in Andhra Pradesh in the south eastern coastal region of India.
She said other family members were suffering anxiety as neighbours died from Covid. Her mother’s neighbour’s husband and son died, only the wife survived.
The father was in his 60s and the son in his 40s.
‘‘They are panicked and can’t sleep,’’ Parachura said of the survivors.
Geeta Muralidharan said though Timaru was now her home, her homeland was an extension of that many miles away.
‘‘Covid is on our doorstep, we feel the pain, and have compassion. Many of us are struggling with loss.’’
Muralidharan lost one of her closest friends four weeks ago to Covid. They went to university together more than 40 years ago and kept in touch.
She had been admitted to hospital in India and the friends spoke on Facetime for the last time the night before she died.
‘‘She was breathless, her lungs were infected. She was talking about the finality of life and about least resistance. I expected she’d get better. It seems surreal.’’
Muralidharan had to watch her friend’s cremation via Facetime. ‘‘It was sad to watch from a distance.’’
Muralidharan’s 82-year-old mother, who lives in the State of Kerala, in South India, has not been able to visit family or friends a few streets away since March last year.
Many of her neighbours have died from the virus.
‘‘If you are 80 plus you are not allowed to go on public property like shops, or banks. She can only walk around her property, she is housebound.’’
The fundraising kicks off at the Timaru Artisan and Farmers Market, on Saturday, with an Indian food stall.
Donations can be made through the Bank of New Zealand account NZ South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society, reference INDIA COVID-19.
The fundraiser has been set up through robust channels to ensure those in need receive help, Muralidharan said.
The New Zealand Indian Central Association will receive the money from the BNZ and pass it onto the Red Cross in India for distribution.