UC Berkeley’s Indian Student Association, or ISA, joined 13 other Indian student organizations across the country in sponsoring the “Help India Breathe” GoFundMe fundraiser, which will donate all funds to nonprofits working to mitigate India’s COVID-19 crisis.
The fundraiser, originally created by Carnegie Mellon University’s Indian Graduate Student Association, has raised nearly $140,000 so far and will be splitting the funds between seven nonprofits, according to ISA co-president Pratiyush Singh.
“What’s happening in India is very personal, with my own parents and family being affected and people in (ISA’s) families too,” Singh said. “We’ve taken this as a personal responsibility.”
In an Instagram message, Aditya Pattani, a campus undergraduate and international student from India, said health infrastructures in India have “completely crumbled.” People in India are obtaining medical materials such as oxygen tanks and medicines from unorthodox sources instead of from large-scale producers, he added.
According to Pattani, donating to charities, many of which provide COVID-19 testing kits and oxygen cylinders to those in need, is one way to help. Pattani said he also suggests donating plasma, which India currently has a shortage of, to COVID-19 patients.
“The easiest way would be donations because a lot of the work can only be done from India, unfortunately,” Pattani said in another Instagram message.
The ISA has been running email and social media campaigns to publicize the GoFundMe and has been sharing information about vaccines, Singh said.
Additionally, the ISA partnered with a local boba tea store to raise funds, and 10% of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to the GoFundMe, according to Singh.
Lee Riley, campus School of Public Health professor and chair of the Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology, is currently in Karnataka, India, where he is working with researchers to help them better understand infectious disease spread.
“India, actually in terms of the number of people vaccinated, is doing just as well as the U.S.; it’s just that they have a lot more people,” Riley said. “We need to recognize that India is capable of doing what the U.S. is doing, just that it’s hard to do in a country with 1.4 billion people.”