Within eight weeks of starting its ‘Help India Defeat COVID-19’ campaign, Sewa International has distributed over 5,996 oxygen concentrators and 177 ventilators to 566 hospitals and COVID-19 care centers across India, covering 26 of 28 Indian states.

Sewa International, India has received over 7,900 oxygen concentrators so far from Sewa units around the globe and 6,850 of them from the United States. Sewa International USA has procured and shipped more than 10,000 oxygen concentrators to India so far and some of them are still in transit. As the COVID-19 situation is improving in India, Sewa is keeping some concentrators in reserve for future use.

Overcoming numerous challenges, from transporting odd sized pallets to its warehouse from the airport to supplying lifesaving equipment to hard-to-reach corners of India, volunteers from Sewa and its partner organizations successfully tackled a huge logistical challenge in the middle of a raging health crisis.

Braving the pandemic while many of their volunteers tested positive for the virus, the Sewa team arranged for 60+ trucks to transport the medical equipment, distributed medicine and food kits to 125,000-plus households, and juggled priorities while working under constant pressure to pick the right hospitals and NGOs from a long list.

Sewa volunteers received equipment sent by the Sewa units from the U.S. and other countries in their primary hub in New Delhi. They later transported them to 44 secondary hubs within India, and then to 410-plus nearby locations by trucks and couriers.

Kumar Subham, chief operating officer, Sewa International, India is coordinating the distribution. He says that more than 11,000 volunteers are involved in the distribution: “Yes, the work has been demanding and the team has been working round the clock. But it is not tiring at all. It’s like working for our families. In this case it is the extended family, the whole of India. As we say, Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam (World is One Family), so none of us mind the hours we put in.”    

Sewa distributed equipment in seven phases and prioritized their delivery based on the severity of cases and population density. Maharashtra, which reported the highest number of cases in India, got 725 oxygen concentrators. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, and Tamil Nadu received 485, 400, 301, 300, 300, and 235 oxygen concentrators, respectively, and occupied the top seven spots.

“In the last 50-plus days, we doubled our partnerships in India to 240-plus partners, and the Indian diaspora from 35-plus countries has supported us,” says Shyam Parande, the global coordinator of Sewa International. “So much work was possible due to the collective strength of the diaspora and the non-profit ecosystem in India. Thanks to the spirit of Sewa rooted in the Indian ethos.”

“In Sewa, we say, Together We Server Better. All the work carried out by Sewa teams from the U.S., India, and many other countries in the past two months amply reflect the essence of this statement. We are glad that we have been able to serve India in its direst hour of need,” says Arun Kankani, Sewa International’s president.

Featured image: Oxygen concentrators sent by Sewa International USA for distribution to hospitals treating COVID-19 patients in India. (Credit: Sewa)