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Aruna Partnership Pandemic Relief

Video from our partner showing how your gifts are being used for pandemic relief

June 8, 2021

Funding is needed for food, hospital beds, medical supplies, expenses for care of Covid-19 patients, and equipment for online teaching

Teachers who currently cannot hold classes distribute hot meals every day to 250 Covid-affected families.

Over 700 households impacted by the lockdown receive sacks of food staples and other essentials to help sustain them through the pandemic crisis.

"Two days ago the manager of the Sri Ramana Maharshi Multicare Hospital struggled to find beds for four of his medical staff who contracted Covid-19. Two of his patients lost their lives due to lack of oxygen support in front of his eyes. If we had oxygen concentrators, we could have saved those lives. We are unable to see people dying in front of us. We desperately need to save them."
Shanthimalai Trustee, May 18

Thankfully Navya's "Together For India" project, in collaboration with Tata Memorial Centre, donated portable oxygen concentrators to Shanthimalai just in time. Funding is also making it possible to refill oxygen cylinders for the central supply to each bed.

More beds are urgently needed.

The average cost of hospital care for a patient with a moderate case of Covid-19 is $1,155.

May 30, 2021

Thank you for your support of the people of India during this unprecedented time. There's no doubt that your gifts are saving lives. The virus is moving very quickly as the pandemic surges - but Shanthimalai, our partner organization in the Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu, is moving quickly, too, in an all-out effort to help turn the tide.

The Tamil Nadu government values Shanthimalai's outstanding 35-year service to Tiruvannamalai and the surrounding 40 villages. Last week Shanthimalai Trust was asked to join the District Covid Task Force formed by order of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to mitigate the impact of this second wave of Covid-19. Shanthimalai has a large and effective network. Requests for supplies and assistance are pouring in. This is how your donations are helping:

Sri Ramana Maharshi Multicare Hospital (SRM) - affiliated with Shanthimalai

New Covid Care ward

New Covid Care ward

SRM has added new beds, with centralized oxygen supply for each bed, and is in the process of being certified as a government-approved Covid Care Centre. More beds will be added as funding permits.

Education about Care and Prevention of Covid-19

People waiting outside the entrance to SRM Hospital before the Covid surge

Entrance to SRM Hospital before the Covid surge

Vaccine hesitancy is extreme in the area. A month ago, less than 2% of the population had been vaccinated. In addition, villagers were resistant to the new lockdown requirements. Last year, India imposed the most severe lockdown in the world. Having suffered under this for so long, villagers were reluctant to follow new restrictions. Social distancing is a foreign concept; masks were rarely worn.

Lack of testing makes it difficult to know how many cases of Covid-19 there are in the area. Four weeks ago, the positivity rate was estimated to be about 4.8%. Three weeks ago, 25% of the population was symptomatic. Now 50% of households show signs of the disease. The SRM Multicare Hospital has been working to educate people about how to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Shanthimalai will open a new Covid Counseling Center soon, as well as a mobile counseling center.

Covid-19 Vaccination Camps

Participants getting vaccine at first free vacxination camp at Shathimalai on May 25th

First free vaccination camp at Shanthimalai on May 25th

In collaboration with the District Health Department, Shanthimalai Trust is offering free vaccination camps every Monday. Last month, the passing of a beloved Tamil actor the day after he chose to be publicly vaccinated spread fear of the vaccines throughout Tamil Nadu. The Trust is working to help ease those fears and to encourage the more than 3,000 people in the extended Shanthimalai community to get vaccinated.

Food Distribution

Mangalam Welfare Society distributing food

The Mangalam Welfare Society (MWS) distributing food to a Gypsy community

During the lockdown, vulnerable groups (migrants, children, economically challenged families, daily wage workers, widows, and other marginalized people) face significant food shortages.To compliment government efforts to meet this need, NGOs and volunteers are working tirelessly to provide food and other essentials.

The Om Shanthi Project distributes packages of food and staples to widows and other vulnerable groups through the Mangalam Welfare Society (MWS), an offshoot of Shanthimalai. When needed, MWS also covers the costs of Covid-19 medical treatment for the widows and their families.

The Shanthimalai canteen provides daily packets of nutritious cooked meals and fruit to Covid-affected families and volunteer health care workers. The Trust also distributes relief packages of food staples (rice, dal, oil, sugar, spices, flour, onions, potatoes and tea) and other essentials to 700 people. When financial support is needed for medical care, the Trust takes care of each case on an individual basis.

Oxygen Concentrators and N95 Masks

In the Boston area, Aruna Partnership worked with Dr. Naresh Ramarajan and Shanthimalai Trust to coordinate delivery of 65 oxygen concentrators and 8,000 N95 masks to Shanthimalai through the Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai.

Oxygen concentrators dispense oxygen in almost the same way that oxygen tanks do, delivering oxygen to patients via tubes or masks. The difference is that oxygen tanks contain a fixed amount of pressurized oxygen, whereas concentrators collect oxygen from the surrounding air and concentrate it for delivery to patients, removing the need for refilling O2 canisters.

Within two days of receiving these life-saving portable oxygen concentrators, Shanthimalai had distributed them throughout the district for immediate use.

Government Medical College and Hospital

Distribution of supplies at the Government Medical College and Hospital

Tiruvannamalai Collector Mr. Sandeep Nanduri, IAS, offered heartfelt thanks to Shanthimalai representatives for their timely distribution of oxygen concentrators and N95 masks throughout the area. On May 24th, Shanthimalai delivered 40 oxygen concentrators and 6,000 N95 masks to the Government Hospital.

Sri Ramana Maharshi Multicare Hospital

Mr. Renugopal, administrator of Sri Ramana Marharshi Multicare Hospital, said the O2 concentrators arrived just in time: their oxygen tanks were empty.

Quarantine Centre

Shanthimalai supplied oxygen concentrators and N95 masks to the Superintendent of Police for the Quarantine Centre.

In Home Treatment

Oxygen concentrators can be used for in home treatment, saving lives and freeing up hospital beds for the most critical cases. Within a day of receiving the concentrators, Shanthimalai had provided oxygen to patients needing support to breathe.

Shanthimalai has also distributed oxygen concentrators and masks to the Om Shanthi Old Age Home, to Mr. Madhan for his mobile clinic service to the villages, to Dr. Saravanan, and to others providing treatment throughout the area.

All of us at Aruna Partnership are deeply, deeply moved by the decisive efforts of our partners on the ground in India - and by your extraordinary outpouring of loving concern and generosity during this challenging time. Thank you. This pandemic is taking a tragic toll in India, but we see evidence every day of the words of Shanthimalai's founders, Dr. Hugo and Anne Maier:

"In life it often seems that the spirit of complacency, passivity, and despair is the mightier power. But the spirit of truth, commitment, and compassion has always the longer breath."

100% of your donation goes directly to India to help those who are suffering. Donations are tax-deductible within the United States.

Bank of America has offered to waive the fees for Aruna Partnership wire transfers to India for the next month.

May 9, 2021

We are deeply touched by the extraordinary expressions of concern and support from all of you who have contacted us asking how to help.

Daily we see footage of the catastrophic situation in North India. Now the pandemic is surging, moving south, and already the people we serve in the Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu are suffering. The number of unreported cases is much higher than official figures, and infection and death rates are rising precipitously. The situation is changing rapidly. We will post updates on our website.

"How to help?"

Aruna Partnership supports our partner organization, Shanthimalai Trust, an integral part of the local community with direct links to 40 villages. Having worked in the area for more than 30 years, Shanthimalai knows who is in need and how to effectively help those who are suffering.

Recently Shanthimalai initiated a massive COVID COMMUNITY SUPPORT PROGRAM that far outreaches its previous efforts during this pandemic year:

  • Food deliveries to hungry families
  • Education about how to protect against Covid-19 and prevent its spread
  • Medical care in a clinic affiliated with Shanthimalai
  • Help with emergency admissions of Covid patients
  • Oxygen supply for in-patients at the clinic
  • Financial support for families in need
  • Assistance in finding housing for those who have lost their homes

Currently our doctors are working to secure oxygen for 30-50 in-patients at the clinic. The cost is $1500/day for 30 patients, far less expensive than it would be for a profit-oriented clinic. This is only a start and will increase as funding permits.

Economic conditions deteriorate by the day. Temples and many businesses are closed. For weeks, a curfew has been imposed from 10 pm to 6 am with a full lockdown on Sundays. As total lockdown loomed, a second hospital was set up in the area for cases requiring critical care.

Now the Tamil Nadu government has just announced a full lockdown beginning on Monday, May 10. All transportation will be halted.

Schools are closed by government order. When possible, children have been meeting outdoors in their villages with their teachers. Soon even this may not be allowed.

Recognizing how essential it is for education to continue in the form of online classes, Aruna Partnership supports Shanthimalai's Online Infrastructure Project for its schools. Currently few children have access to computers, smartphones or iPads, making online classes almost impossible.

Shanthimalai has the capability to meet these needs. Help is needed to finance:

  • Hardware (servers, iPads or smartphones)
  • Software (server, Zoom, MS Teams, learning programs)
  • Data communication channels
  • Educational content designed for online instruction

100% of your tax-deductible donation goes directly to India to help the most vulnerable - the poor, the elderly, children, widows, and pandemic unemployed families.

More and more, this pandemic shows us that we are all one heart and one life. Your donations are a great blessing for the people of India. May your generosity bless you as well, and all connected with you.

November 2020

Certificate of Appreciation

In September, Shanthimalai received a Certificate of Appreciation for Excellence from the Indian government for their service to the local population during the pandemic. Shanthimalai Trust and the Mangalam Welfare Society (formerly Shanthimalai Handicrafts) continue to identify those in need and to do whatever they can to relieve their suffering. Read more.

April 2020

During this extraordinary time, we hope that you and your loved ones are well and staying safe. Although we all face many new challenges every day, how blessed we are to have the basic necessities! Several of you have asked about the people we serve in India, where the situation is very different.

Since March 25, India has been in total lockdown in an effort to prevent widespread disaster. The situation in our area is dire. Social distancing is a luxury everywhere, but particularly so in India. Distancing is a strange concept for this huge population. In the midst of the pandemic, it is very, very difficult to achieve. Stores are closed and transport of goods is problematic, causing prices to double or triple. Those who worked for daily wages are no longer allowed to work. With no savings at all, they are unable to buy food even if they could find it. Many of these very poor, now homeless people have no way to wash their hands properly in order to avoid contagion. Frightened though they are of the virus, they are even more afraid of starving to death.

There are signs of hope. The government is doing what it can, even though supplies are inadequate. The collector (mayor) of Tiruvannamalai is very capable and does his best to distribute food to the homeless and hungry. Indian families who are better off are contributing to the effort.

Working in close coordination with the District Administration, our partner Shanthimalai Trust is providing relief by passing out food packages each day to the families of over 200 workers who are left with no way to earn a living and who have nothing to eat. In addition, Shanthimalai is also providing temporary shelter and food for more than 50 homeless people and migrants who would not survive without this support. Seeing the desperate need of these vulnerable people, the Trust is preparing to do even more.

Aruna Partnership helps funds these efforts and those of Shanthimalai Trust's sister organization, Shanthimalai Handicrafts Development Society. The Handicrafts Society is distributing rice and vegetables each day to about 300 homeless people, many of whom are sadhus (renunciates). This week Shanthimalai Handicrafts will also begin delivering food packages to widows and their families, taking the food by small lorry from door to door.

In spite of all of these efforts, the situation becomes more challenging every day. The economic consequences of this pandemic will be shocking everywhere, but will hit the poorest of the poor the hardest.

Anything you can do to help will go a long way toward relieving the suffering these people endure.

"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." Shanthimalai Trust

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