One World: connected by more than Pandemic
“The new normal”- the abyss of a year. I felt a sudden pause in the early stages of the lockdown; my life completely stopped, no more swimming and socializing. The things we loved had stopped. It was a psychological imperative to slow down. While others were trying to be the best versions of themselves during the quarantine season, I felt like I was losing the best part about me. After 12 months of a roller coaster of emotions within the US, we thought we were nearing an end by March 2021 with vaccination efforts in full swing. We were working towards getting back to normal.
While the US was towards new normal, distant families in India started getting Covid. Every morning the phone would ring, and we would hear my parent’s uncle, friend, teacher, or anyone that had touched their childhood was either in the hospital or in critical condition. The medical system was failing in India. A staggering 75 million had fallen into poverty since the pandemic’s beginning (Lee).
I felt helpless to see my family in India deeply impacted and wanted to find out if there was any way to provide relief at this time of despair. I started discussing with Priti Bansal, Co-Founder and President of Empower And Help to see if there were any efforts underway to help the people in India being affected. Learned about the fundraising efforts that she was leading in collaboration with our India Mentorship Program SAATHI, a small, localized non-profit organization in New Delhi founded in 2010 by Mr. Deepak Kumar. SAATHI provides free educational guidance and coaching to children from underprivileged backgrounds. I was excited to hear about this opportunity and joined in the effort.
I met with Priti and Tasha (one of the other lead volunteers for Empower And Help) to define a goal, develop a game plan, and design an outreach program. I continued to meet weekly to ensure we were on target towards meeting our fundraising goals. We created a flyer to help spread the word through Instagram and other social media platforms.
I lined up all my contacts in google sheets, listing everyone I knew and where they worked. I was reaching out to people and making them aware of India’s struggles. I sent several emails and text messages. I came up with a system to track pledge and fund collection: how much money I had received from them, what they had pledged, date of receipt, and follow-up status. It was difficult for me to have a conversation about asking for money with my friends, families, and strangers. It was also very challenging to wait for their response on whether they would like to donate and follow up to make sure they met their pledge.
In less than 20 days, I reached out to more than 50 families. I was also able to gain corporate matching donations from Apple and Google and raised $1000 myself. The whole campaign raised $2500 and was a great success. The proceeds went to support families struggling financially because of unemployment or the loss of lives caused by the pandemic. These funds were also used to provide groceries and Chromebooks for kids to continue their education. While it was a small contribution, it was a fulfilling experience. I feel hopeful about the world and our future by experiencing how people cared about other people thousands of miles away from them and belonged to a different nation.
Lee, YenNee. “Covid Pandemic Pushes 75 Million More People into Poverty in India, Study Shows.” CNBC, CNBC, 19 Mar. 2021, www.cnbc.com/2021/03/19/covid-pandemic-pushes-75-million-more-people-into-poverty-in-india-study.html.
[By Lehar Mishra, is Empower And Help Student Ambassador 2020,2021 from New Jersey]