HOUSTON, March 24, 2020 – The Indian American community of Houston has joined together to respond to the coronavirus pandemic on a war-footing. Rasesh Dalal of Vallabh Priti Seva Samaj (VPSS) is coordinating the community leaders meeting. “We have good plans of action to fight Covid-19. Our next meeting, on March 29, will be via video conferencing.”, said Dalal.
Sewa International is leading the ground operations on behalf of the Indo-American organizations. Devendra Mahajan of Arya Samaj said, “I cannot say enough about the quality of service Sewa International provided during the Harvey Floods in Houston. They made us very proud as Indian Americans. They deserve all the help and support in their fund-raising campaign.”
“This is a dire situation, people are dying, and we need to do everything that we can,” said Gitesh Desai, President of Sewa International, Houston Chapter. He told the group that “Sewa has set up four regional non-medical helplines for a coordinated national response, where people can call in for assistance. Regional hubs include Houston, the Bay Area, Atlanta, and New Jersey.
Sewa services a wide range of issues on the helplines, including aiding individuals reporting Covid-19 symptoms, checking in on family members, purchasing food and groceries, and assisting international students. The Indian Consulate in Houston and the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC are also forwarding help requests to Sewa about international students.
Sewa International had 20,000 masks in their warehouse as part of its disaster preparedness plan. They immediately began distributing those masks to medical facilities all over the country including in Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, the Bay Area, and New Jersey. In fact, San Mateo County in California offered to send an airplane to pick up a few thousand masks which highlights how dire the situation is. Sewa International is now in the process of procuring three million additional masks and is actively seeking funds to support this important purchase.
Sewa International is also coordinating the delivery of 200 meals a day to first responders. Sewa International is in the process of setting up a system of regularly checking on 1000 senior citizens in a safe and hygienic way. Sewa International is hosting informational video sessions with doctors, lawyers, Chartered Public Accountants (CPAs), family therapists, and yoga/meditation experts.
Ramesh Bhutada, a leading philanthropist, has pledged to donate $25,000 and the community leaders raised over $50,000 for the cause during their meeting last week. Patanjali Yogpeeth, Arya Samaj, Hindus of Greater Houston, and Hindu Worship Society were also among the early supporters of the fundraising campaign.
A large scale COVID-19 response needs volunteers and financial assistance. If you are interested in volunteering with Sewa, please join us directly by contacting a Sewa International USA member or through a partnering temple or organization. We also have an immediate financial need of $500,000 in Houston and $3.5 million nationally to continue these efforts and to support our community at every level during this pandemic.
You may donate directly at the Sewa International USA website (https://www.sewausa.org/Donate) or on our Facebook (https://bit.ly/FBDonateSewa),” Gitesh Desai said.