Support groups formed, fundraisers launched for families of Indian Americans falling to Covid in India.
Going through some forwarded messages on his phone, Milwaukee, Wisconsin resident Gaurav Kalra came across a GoFundMe page created for one Ashher Aamir.
Aamir, an Edison, New Jersey, resident and sole breadwinner of the family, succumbed to Covid pneumonia while on a visit to India late last month, according to the page.
For Kalra, who runs a popular Facebook community, Indian Expats in USA, the name sounded familiar but he couldn’t recall where he may have heard about the person.
Late that evening, a random scroll on a 30,000 member strong Facebook community he runs revealed that Aamir was one of the most active members of the group.
“Suddenly, the loss became personal,” says Kalra. “It was just devastating to see some of his recent posts where he had been inquiring about traveling to India and Covid test requirements for an infant.”
Kalra immediately posted on his Facebook community and soon hundreds of people messaged Kalra in shock and sorrow. Ashher Aamir, is survived by his wife and two young children aged 3 and 8 months.
Aamir had to travel to India in the second week of April to attend to his sick mother. However he fell sick within a few days of his departure, he lost his life on April 25 as he could not get adequate oxygen support as he waited in a government hospital in Delhi — one of the worst hit cities in India.
“The saddest part is that he was all of 36 years of age,” Kalra says. “We came across many of his old posts where he had taken the pains to post important information about pandemic, immigration and travel to India in the group. He was a helpful member.”
Many social media groups are currently getting inundated with news about Indians settled in the US, visiting India and then losing the battle to Covid, leaving behind their families in the States.
Pradeep Kumar, another Indian in America, also died due to Covid complications recently while visiting family in India. He was also the only earning member of the family and is survived by three young children.
His 9-year-old is autistic and unable to understand why his father would not come back. Just like Aamir, Kumar too had traveled to India to attend to his aging parents during the pandemic.
An IT professional, Kumar was only 46 and had no pre-existing medical conditions. His wife, a homemaker, is now tasked with the responsibility of raising their three children.
Among the ill fated struck with Covid while helping family in India was another software professional from Valencia, California. Anand Mehta had left for India on learning about his parents and brother who had contracted Covid.
After his arrival in India, he himself got Covid and could not recover. He died after a 21 day battle in hospital, while his wife and two sons aged 10 and 15 waited for his return.
“During these times, our community groups on social media have become our family away from our family,” Kalra says.
Kalra who floated his Facebook group Indian Expats in USA last year in July when pandemic was at its peak in America says that the group was born out of the needs of expats to understand the situation and their visa legalities during rapidly changing times.
The community grew rapidly and amassed thousands of followers within a few weeks.
“I researched important government handles to follow both from India and US to understand the legal issues and new information floating in,” Kalra says. “Thousands of us needed clarity on how to navigate our visa issues while pandemic halted travel and normal life across the globe.”