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    EXCLUSIVE: Oxbridge societies launch joint fundraiser for COVID-19 relief in India after raising initial £10,000 in under 72 hours

    Matt Schaffel reports on the success of the recent Oxford joint society fundraiser for the India Covid-19 crisis.

    The Oxford India Society, Oxford Hindu Society, and Oxford South Asian Society’s fundraiser has reached its target of £10,000 less than 72 hours after its launch on Wednesday 28th April. The societies had initially hoped to meet their target within the first ten days of the fundraiser.

    The Oxford societies have now partnered with the Cambridge University India Society, the Cambridge South Asia Forum, and the Cambridge University Bharatiya Society. They are now launching a joint fundraiser with the new goal of raising £50,000 in 10 days.

    A group of representatives for the societies also featured on ITV, discussing the issues in India and the launch of the initial fundraiser. Those interviewed were Anvee Bhutani and Suyesha Dutta, Presidents of the Oxford India Society and Oxford South Asian Society respectively, and Shreyas Rajesh, Religious Officer at the Oxford Hindu Society.

    A joint statement from the Oxford societies said: “We want to thank the community for the amazing support we have received over the last few days to reach our initial goal of £10,000 in such a short time. We would like to take this momentum forward and increase the scope of our fundraiser. Having met our initial goal, we are going to collaborate with the Cambridge University community, joining with the Cambridge University India Society, the Cambridge South Asia Forum and the Cambridge University Bharatiya Society to work towards our ambitious new goal of raising £50,000 for the cause.”

    “The first £10,000 that we raised will be committed to the following four NGOs which we have identified as high priority aid recipients:

    1. The Raah Foundation (Maharashtra)
    2. SEEDS (contributing towards their work in Uttar Pradesh).
    3. The Delhi Solidarity Group
    4. Mercy Mission (Bengaluru)

    “As we raise more money, we will increase the number of NGOs we are donating to and seek to positively impact a wider cross section of the country and alleviate the crisis. Once again, we would like to thank everyone for their support thus far and continuing on.”

    The Cambridge societies involved also released the following statement: “We are all devastated to see India being ravaged by the second wave of COVID-19. The aggressive second wave has led to an exponential rise in cases and deaths, resulting in a record high of over 208,000 reported deaths and 350,000 daily confirmed cases. The last seven days have been particularly distressing. The country is experiencing the world’s fastest growing COVID outbreak, with a cumulative total of more than 18.8 million infections.

    “Lack of availability of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, ventilators, life-saving drugs, medical supplies and ambulances have crippled existing healthcare infrastructures. The COVID catastrophe has also displaced and threatened the livelihood of millions of migrant labourers and people living below the poverty line. We urge the international community and the South Asian diaspora to step forward to help us raise funds to support ongoing COVID relief efforts in India.”

    Anvee Bhutani, President of the Oxford India Society, commented: “It feels surreal to have raised the full amount so quickly and I am very excited about our collaboration. I think raising awareness around the issue is so important and I’m grateful that ITV gave us the chance to talk more about the problems that those on the ground in India are facing.”

    Suyesha Dutta, President of the Oxford South Asian Society added: “Being at the epicentre in New Delhi has provided me with a real-time view of the crisis as it unfolds. I’ve already interviewed with media houses like ITV, who are drawing serious global attention to India. Yet, one forgets to highlight how the Indian youth is at the helm of our COVID relief effort. As a relief volunteer myself, watching the Oxbridge youth parallelly come together at such a crucial stage is therefore remarkable.”

    Aditya Dabral, President of the Oxford Hindu Society commented: “We’re delighted at the progress of the fundraiser. Our hope is that we keep the momentum going with this collaboration and that we continue to make a meaningful difference to the situation on the ground.”

    Shreyas Rajesh, the Religious Officer of the Oxford Hindu Society said: “I’m very grateful to have been featured speaking about this incredibly important topic on ITV news. My community back home is still struggling tremendously with the ongoing covid crisis, so I’m really glad to see people here taking an interest. It’s also rewarding to see how well the Oxford campaign for India has done in its initial stages.”

    Image Credit: Pexels/pixabay.com

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