Many of us are deeply discouraged, angered, and in grief over the current COVID-19 spikes in India and South America. Those of us with friends and family in the global South may be grieving lost lives or living in fear that we will lose a loved one. All of us may be feeling frustrated and perhaps guilty for being on the privileged side of what has become a vaccine apartheid. As reported by the UN World Health Organization, 82% of COVID-19 vaccines have gone to high-income countries, while only 0.2% have gone to low-income countries. This starkly unequal distribution of vaccines can make us feel helpless and hopeless, thinking, “What can I do?” There are actually a few things we can do to make a difference. On Sunday, it became clear that public pressure on the US government has helped. The White House announced that U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will start talks on how to “get this vaccine more widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared.” Here are a few ideas of how we can help by using our privilege to hold The White House accountable to follow through on that promise:
First, through this time, take care of yourself. Take time to grieve, feel sad, and process your anger. Connect with loved ones and care for each other. We need one another more than ever during times of cultural trauma. We need to make room for our own healing and resilience in order to be able to be present for others. Sindhu Singh’s blog post on resiliency has some great ideas for how to do this.
Lift export restrictions on vaccines and vaccine ingredients
Waive vaccine intellectual property rights on vaccines
Release Emergency Aid to India to support sharing of oxygen, anti-virals, and other medical supplies
Donate to support aid efforts. Research yourself to ensure funds are being donated directly, but here are some organizations to consider:
Here is a link for many mutual aid projects across India:
UNICEF: UNICEF is rushing staff and supplies like critical oxygen concentrators, PPE kits, and diagnostic testing systems to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and support India’s front-line health-care workers.
Indian Red Cross: The Indian Red Cross responds to disasters like the current coronavirus outbreak by delivering emergency medical supplies and providing emergency services across the country.
Shelter for the trans community in rural north Bengal: This long list of places to donate in India has been shared by hundreds of people on Twitter, including culture writer Scaachi Koul and illustrator Sonaksha Iyengar. One of the many worthy fundraisers on the list is this one that helps build a long-term shelter for older, homeless trans people in rural north Bengal.
Care India: Care India is a global humanitarian organization working in India to provide emergency relief, additional health workers, hospital beds, oxygen supply, and more.
Project hope: This U.S.-based global health nonprofit is working with local partners to provide PPE and critically needed medical equipment to help front-line health-care workers fight the spread of COVID-19.
Americares: Americares is working with several states in India to support health-care workers and slow the spread of COVID-19. The organization says it’s providing PPE, ventilators, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, thermometers, and other critical medical materials.
Oxfam India: Oxfam India is supplying PPE, safety kits, and medical equipment to hospitals and health-care centers. It’s are also working with local policy-makers to aid in vaccine distribution and provide direct cash payments to marginalized households.
Rapid response: This India-based organization is delivering dry goods such as rice, lentils, sugar, and salt and safety kits to poor families, migrant workers, the elderly, and front-line workers. Donations via Ketto
- Reach out to any loved ones / friends / family to share your availability to support in whatever way you can.
- I realize this one is pretty obvious, but crises sometimes call for new ways to support that we haven’t thought of before. For example, I’ve been communicating with an old friend in rural Kenya who has been grateful for my help researching local COVID news on the internet and sharing succinct info with her because it is now more difficult for her to access electricity or cell service for sustained periods.
- Again, take care of yourself and loved ones!