I love India, the second-most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion inhabitants. (China is number one.)
I have traveled to India every year for the past seven years, with this year the only one where COVID kept me away. My last trip leading a group tour was last February 2020, right before the massive worldwide lockdown. Our adventure was phenomenal, and our memories of the food, the people, our friends, the city, and the countryside are etched in our hearts and minds to remind us of how beautiful this part of the world really is.
Our hosts for all of my trips to India, Reverends Abraham and Sarah Peddiny, live in Chennai, one of India's largest cities on the southeast coast of the country in the state of Tamil Nadu. They couldn't be more gracious, more loving, and more giving to their community and me.
COVID has now attacked the Peddinys and infected everyone in their household. By the grace of God, the family found a hospital for Rev Abraham Peddiny, where he's currently located, with oxygen pumping through his body to keep him alive. His wife, daughter, and family friends are now quarantined in their home until they recover.
Given that COVID is killing people all over India, I am grateful that my friends are alive and not dead on the streets somewhere in Chennai.
This is only one family unit in India. There are countless others who aren't so lucky, didn't find a hospital in time, and are now waiting in the queue to cremate their loved ones.
You've seen the news stories, photos, and video clips. Believe them and multiply them since some areas of the country are underreported.
Full Disclosure: I am fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, and most of my immediate family in Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut and Florida have been vaccinated. I have also had two COVID tests, and both results were negative. And to top it off, I had a COVID antibody test, which tells if you have ever had COVID. It, too, was negative.
So you may ask, "If Carole is fully vaccinated, what's the big deal? Why should she care about what is happening about the rise and fall of the COVID crisis outside of the United States? More than 40% of adults in the US have had at least one of two vaccinations (Moderna and Pfizer require two vaccinations…J&J is only one vaccine). So isn't that enough?"
The answer is, "The plight of the world's future could very well rest in what happens in India. We are an interconnected planet. What happens in India could impact the US, UK, and Canada should another COVID wave break out in the coming months." We are in a worldwide pandemic that probably started in China, spread quickly to Europe, and flew with speed to the US. As a world event…we don't have the luxury to pick and choose the countries we should embrace or ignore.
That includes India. The country that COVID is now strangling with all its might. So what can you do? What can one person do?
ONE: Help the Peddiny Family. I started a fundraising campaign last week with a goal to raise at least $5000 to help them. As you can imagine, this health challenge was not planned for in the Peddiny Family budget, and some essential medical supplies, including oxygen, have skyrocketed in price. I have almost reached my goal. 100% of your donation will be sent to the Peddinys to help reduce their medical expenses caused by COVID. Any amount will help them. Your prayers will also help mightily. Please share this link with your friends who may also want to donate. https://bit.ly/3vlN7Dy
TWO: Watch The News
Get updated information on the crisis in India on international websites, including CNN: www.cnn.com, BBC: www.bbc.co.uk, and The Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/us. I find that the BBC gives some of the best news stories on international issues on the web.
THREE: Listen to Podcasts on the India COVID crisis. A good one I listen to is "India Explained." It is hosted by two Indian ex-pats—one living in London and the other in San Francisco. They will give you unvarnished insight into what's going on in their home country, including the political issues that impact the nation. Here's the link to the latest episode:
FOUR: Check in with your Indian friends in your community.
There is a new travel ban on India, and some travelers are stuck in the country trying to get back to the US, Canada, or England. And of course, those outside of India are worried sick about their relatives and friends back in their home country. Show you care. Call them up or talk to them at work. Brainstorm what you can do to help. Again we are one world, and now assisting Indian friends and family is needed more now than ever.
FIVE: Contact Congress and The White House. Call your US Senators and the White House and ask them to continue to send aid to India. Thank goodness, President Biden "gets it," and medical supplies, oxygen, and other humanitarian goods are being shipped to India. The irony is that India was a major vaccine producer, exporting some of its vaccines to parts of Africa. Not now. Less than 1% of Indians have been vaccinated. And India is under equipped even to take care of its own people.You do the math. They are overwhelmed with their current crisis and need all the help they can get. Here's a website to find the contact information for your state's US senators:
We are our brother and sister's keeper. Keeping an international eye on world situations is our best way to protect our planet. You can do good things in your own home, neighborhood, AND across the world. Don't become an isolationist. We're way too connected to simply think about our own backyard.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.