In light of the intensifying COVID-19 crisis in India, students at Harvard and over a dozen other universities have banded together to raise funds for humanitarian relief. Since its launch last week, the Give India campaign has raised over $232,000 USD.
These funds will go to NGOs on the ground in India and help cover the cost of distributing PPE and refilling oxygen tanks. Such supplies have been scarce, and hospitals have been flooded. On Thursday alone, India recorded 412, 262 new COVID-19 cases, a single day record for the country.
Like many other Indians living abroad, Harvard Business School graduate student Shyamli Badgaiyan watched the news from home go from bad to catastrophic during the early weeks of April and decided to do something. “I initially considered volunteering with GiveIndia, a fundraising platform led by Atul Satija, and upon speaking with their team, started brainstorming the idea of a HBS-wide fundraiser to channel vital resources to the ground…I then paused and asked myself, why just stop at HBS?” she says.
Badgaiyan reached out to her contacts across Harvard and at other universities such as Stanford. She also teamed with a parallel effort led by Priyank Lathwal, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon. “We agreed that it was important to show solidarity as students and to tap into the network effect of a single fundraiser. Next thing we knew, word of this had spread: just 24 hours since the idea had come to us, we had received interest from 16 student organizations and schools, and embarked on a soft launch,” Badgaiyan says. “The support has been absolutely overwhelming and demonstrated to me the power of individuals coming together for a good cause. While the situation on the ground remains heartbreaking, I’m deeply heartened by the determination, generosity and compassion that I’ve seen pour into our effort.”
MCO graduate student Heer Joisher (G2) is one of the students contributing to the project, along with the leadership team of the India Conference at Harvard. “We felt like this was a great platform to amplify the message about this pan-US fundraiser started by south Asian students of 16+ schools,” Joisher says. “Not being a mere spectator to the harrowing humanitarian crisis faced by our country was the biggest motivation behind the team coming back together to try our best and help spread the world! It has been extremely heartwarming to see the incredible response to this fundraiser not just from the Harvard Community but from across the country.”
The campaign is making every effort to be transparent with plans to disclose how the funds will be spent and post a breakdown of the impacts on the ground in the coming weeks.
Other people in the MCB community have noted the intensity of the crisis in India and moved to help as well. MCO Assistant Director of Graduate Programs Fanuel Muindi is compiling a running list of organizations working on COVID-19 relief in India with links to donation pages and additional information. “Like many others, I have felt a little helpless watching the destruction,” Muindi says. “One issue I quickly discovered was that donors were having trouble trying to figure out where to send their donations..I figured that creating a curated list that is sortable would make it a little easier for both myself and other donors to do their research.”
He started by listing nonprofits addressing the current COVID-19 crisis in India and quickly found dozens of relevant organizations. Before including anything on the list, Muindi checks that the organization is a 501c3 nonprofit and has a specific project focusing on the COVID-19 response in India. The list also includes a note recommending that potential donors look up the nonprofits on sites like Guidestar and Charity Navigator before contributing.
Muindi adds, “The list continues to grow (now 40+) and there are volunteers helping to curate the list and adding new categories. People can also submit recommendations of organizations to add to the growing list.”
A more detailed story about the student-led Give India campaign’s origins appeared in The Harvard Gazette on Tuesday. More information and the donation page can be found here. Muindi’s list of organizations is here.