Two men from India now living in Nova Scotia have been watching the COVID-19 crisis unfold in that country.
They’re also trying to help.
Yogesh Ghore, senior program staff at St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady Institute, said he feels “helpless” as the second wave of the pandemic devastates his home country.
He said he has lost friends and family members to COVID-19 and others became quite sick.
Ghore said friendly online group chats from India have now become cries for help.
“The only messages you get now is SOS messages,” he began. “People looking for ICU (intensive care unit) beds, people looking for remdesivir, people looking for life-saving drugs, people looking most for oxygen.”
Ghore’s former colleague Anuj Jain left India 20 years ago and has spent a decade living in Canada.
Jain, part of Facilitators for Social Change in Antigonish, N.S., said India reopened too quickly as the first wave of the pandemic subsided and calls the current scene “surreal.”
“The latest news that is coming out is just heart-wrenching,” Jain said. “Even to people who have never been to India, you just can’t help but cry.”
Both men said it’s important for them to help as much as they can, even from an ocean away. They’ve been able to do that through their positions in Canada.
Coady Institute is working with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India.
Ghore said SEWA produced and distributed 10 million face masks during the early days of the pandemic.
As part of the second wave, he said they’re assisting with the distribution of food and medicine.
“There is so much misinformation right now through social media that (SEWA has) become a credible channel to give the right messages around public health,” Ghore said.
Jain said Facilitators for Social Change has worked with other organizations across Canada to raise money for food, child care and other amenities.
“The whole supply chain has broken in many places,” Jain said. “We have raised about $20,000 in the last two days. It’s amazing how many of the friends and people in our circle in Canada have responded so generously.”
The men say that despite the challenges, there are many stories of communities in India coming together in triumph.
Ghore said his brother, a pediatrician in India, was approached by the parents of a three-month-old baby infected with COVID-19.
The child had a 40.6 C fever, Ghore said, and his brother was doubtful the baby would survive. But after being admitted to hospital and commencing treatment, the child survived.