donate to india: how to help the country during its catastrophic covid-19 surge

donate to india: how to help the country during its catastrophic covid-19 surge

At the moment, India, my home country, is going through a deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. This wave is ravaging the nation, leaving millions infected, at least 200,000 dead (according to the official tally, though many estimate the true number is much higher), and an entire population struggling to gain access to basic essentials, including food and medical supplies. With less than two percent of India’s population fully vaccinated, a vast majority of the country’s population remains highly vulnerable and unprotected from the virus.

Not only has the daily rise in the number of cases frighteningly skyrocketed, but the healthcare system is also unable to meet the demands for oxygen, hospital beds for patients, and various medical services. Crematoriums and burial grounds are overwhelmed as well and the picture is beyond grim. 

While the situation is heartbreakingly at odds with the current COVID conversations in other countries, which are largely focused on reopening plans, this is an opportunity for all of us to get together and fight the raging pandemic. After all, what affects one, affects all. When one nation suffers, we all suffer. As members of the global community, it’s our responsibility to support the people and places that are battling this catastrophe. And right now, India needs your help!

As many are trying to help in whatever way they can, some groups and organizations are working tirelessly to support those affected by the pandemic as well. Their efforts have been of tremendous help, especially to the poor, destitute and underprivileged. But these organizations are singularly fueled by you and me. Donations are vital to their operations. The funds help them meet their goals, which range from procuring oxygen concentrators for hospitals to providing free meals to COVID-19 patients and everything in between.

India is overwhelmed with the second wave of this catastrophic disease, and this is a remarkable opportunity for all of us, no matter where we live, to practice effective altruism and give with a generous heart.

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

Below, I’ve gathered a list of organizations that are supporting Indians on the ground, with the aid of local and international donations. Each organization is verified and I urge you to do your part and donate in helping those who are struggling right now.

  1. Khalsa Aid India: One of the world’s most renowned humanitarian organizations, Khalsa Aid’s India chapter is helping COVID-19 patients in Delhi-NCR with oxygen concentrators for free. Within two days of launching their WhatsApp helpline on April 23, Khalsa Aid was inundated with more than 3,000 requests. Besides oxygen concentrators, the NGO is also helping people with wood for cremation. 
  2. GiveIndia: From providing free oxygen cylinders to other life-saving equipment, GiveIndia is one of the many non-profits trying to help people affected by the coronavirus. It had last year raised ₹220 crores (around 30 million dollars) which helped more than 5.6 million Indians in over 115 cities during the first wave. At the same time, GiveIndia had activated a fundraiser to help people with food raising ₹33 lakhs (close to $45,000). According to GiveIndia, ₹1,750 ($24) can help one family have two meals a day for one week. Both the fundraisers have been reactivated. You can also support the #TogetherForIndia initiative by Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas here
  3. Milaap: There are multiple fundraisers on Milaap that aim to provide everything from food for COVID-19 patients isolated in various parts of Delhi to meet the shortage of oxygen in hospitals. For instance, Swasth Digital Health Foundation along with ACT Grants are aiming to raise ₹1.5 crores to procure concentrators and deploy them where needed. According to them, 10,000 concentrators have already been secured but more are needed due to the crumbling situation. I have started a fundraiser to support this cause as well; if you’d like to join, you can donate here.
  4. Hemkunt Foundation: Located in Gurugram, Haryana, the foundation is helping people in need of oxygen by providing cylinders for a refundable deposit of ₹10,000 for those who can pay. They also have a ‘drive-thru’ facility that lets COVID-19 patients inhale oxygen from the cylinders at their office free of cost. Of the 12,000 calls they claim to be receiving every day for the past few weeks, the NGO is able to help around 30-40 percent of them as of now.
  5. Uday Foundation: The Delhi-based NGO is trying to help the homeless by distributing 10,000 ‘wellness kits’ under their campaign #StayWell. The kits contain paracetamol, ORS and an oximeter among other essential over-the-counter medicines. The aim is to give the underprivileged in the Capital a chance to fight COVID-19. They are also raising funds to help the extremely needy with food and supplies.
  6. Khaana Chahiye: The NGO started as a citizen-led movement to help migrant workers during the national lockdown in the early months of the pandemic last year. They have so far helped close to 600,000  migrant workers, distributed 4.7 million meals in Mumbai and supplied 20,000 ration kits. The organization has over 200 citizen volunteers including actors, students, professionals and chefs.
  7. HelpAge India: HelpAge India is one of the country’s most respectable charities which has been caring for the disadvantaged older population since 1978. The non-profit is present in 125 districts of 25 states and has been working extensively to help the elderly and underprivileged. So far, it has provided over 200,000 meals in 12 state capitals, distributed 38,000 ration kits in seven states, addressed SOS messages from 30,000 elders on HelpAge India helpline, and distributed more than 30,000 protective masks made by elder self-help groups to the destitute elders. It has also helped doctors working in Delhi government hospitals with 5,400 PPE kits.
  8. Feeding from Far: Started in 2020 during the initial months of the pandemic in India, the initiative has been helping the poor and unemployed in Mumbai with cooked meals and ration kits which include rice, wheat, oil and salt among other items. They have been working in Govandi, a slum and dumping ground in the Maharashtra capital, where daily wage workers and other poorer sections of the society live.
  9. Mission Oxygen: Mission Oxygen’ is the name of the campaign by Democracy People Foundation to help hospitals with oxygen concentrators. The non-profit initiative has a requirement of 3000 concentrators and has managed to procure 1300 from China at the time of writing.
  10. The Akshaya Patra Foundation: The Bengaluru-based not-for-profit foundation has been able to provide more than 1.2 million cumulative meals as part of its COVID-19 relief efforts across states. According to the foundation, the cost of each cooked meal comes to ₹25. The grocery kit distributed by the organization contains oil, spices, vegetables, rice and other such items that can serve two people two meals a day for 21 days. Each kit costs ₹825 ($11).
  11. Association for India’s Development (AID): This American charity has partnered with 30 organizations in 18 states so far and helped over 200,000 people, including migrant workers. AID has also been distributing thousands of PPE kits across the country besides helping the needy with food supplies.
  12. Feeding India: Feeding India is a non-profit organization started by Zomato, one of India’s leading food delivery and restaurant finder apps. The organization has been raising funds to help mitigate the oxygen crisis that the nation is currently grappling with. Under its initiative, ‘India Needs Oxygen,’ Feeding India is providing free oxygen supplies to hospitals and patients. In this regard, it recently partnered with logistics company Delhivery for oxygen concentrators and other related supplies. The aim is to raise ₹50 crore (around $6.8 million).
  13. Doctors For You (DFY): DFY is a registered society founded by doctors, medical students and like-minded people in 2007 to provide medical help for all. During the pandemic, DFY has been active in several states of the country providing everything from medical care to PPE kits. In Delhi, it helped set up and manage the 100-bed COVID care facility at Shehnai Banquet Hall, LNJP Hospital Extension Centre, as well as the CWG Village facility which has 500 beds. Its Karnataka team is managing two COVID care facilities while in Mumbai, DFY provided support to healthcare facilities under its #ProtectTheProtector initiative.
  14. Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF): Founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, the foundation is working to ensure no child is deprived of education due to the coronavirus. The focus is on urban slums and rural areas, where children do not have access to online facilities. KSCF has plans to support these children with a smartphone or tablet and a prepaid mobile connection to help them study. The foundation also aims to provide them with mid-day meals.
  15. HelpNow: HelpNow, an ambulance network set up by students, is a 24/7 logistics network that is helping transport COVID patients, medical workers, and life-saving medical supplies, including blood and organs. They are accepting donations on their Ketto page. 
  16. IMANA (Islamic Medical Association of North America): IMANA is running a fundraiser called “Help India Breathe.” In partnership with 19 hospitals in major Indian cities, the group will be facilitating the delivery and deployment of oxygen and related equipment. 
  17. Mazdoor Kitchen: Mazdoor Kitchen is a citizen-run organization that is providing meals and ration kits to daily wage workers in North Delhi. Donate to their fundraiser on Ketto.
  18. IMRC (Indian Muslim Relief & Charities): IMRC is a nonprofit focused on supporting India’s Muslim community. Their COVID efforts are far-reaching, from stipends for currently unemployed teachers and imams, to thermometer and mask distribution, though their meal donation suggestions are clearly broken down so you can see what your money can do: just $1 provides a warm meal, and $25 provides a meal kit that can last a family one month. 

Additional resources

For more leads on vetted organizations you can support right now, follow spice company Diaspora Co. on Instagram, who are actively posting updates on fundraising efforts and sharing local organizations to donate to. This Google Doc, compiled by activists in India, is a long list of places to donate, with notes on their targeted causes (from mental health support for nurses, to ambulances in the state of Bihar), and which organizations are accepting international payment options.