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AUC student Preksha Bapna recently launched a fundraiser to assist in providing financial support and medical equipment to those in India impacted by the recent surge in coronavirus cases and resulting hospitalisations. Working independently, Preksha took the time for a short interview to explain her motivation behind the fundraiser, how she got involved and what type of assistance she's been working to provide thus far.

Preksha Bapna

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Preksha: "My name is Preksha Bapna and I am 19 years old. I am originally from India but was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. I am currently in my third year at AUC, mainly focusing on biomedical sciences and international relations. Throughout my time at AUC, I have been active within AUCSA committees, UCSRN, the Ambassador’s team and now Student Council as the Co-Chair. Being involved in these activities has shown me how vibrant and supportive AUC’s community can be."

What inspired you or motivated you to start the fundraiser for COVID-19 relief in India? 

Preksha: "India has had the highest number of cases and deaths per day, growing with a sharp rise. One of the main reasons for this peak was India’s government, which did not set safety measures in place for events such as election rallies and holy festivals such as the Kumbh Mela. People were exposed to crowds without maintaining social distancing or wearing masks. A shortage of vaccines, especially in rural areas, also contributed to this rise. Moreover, I kept seeing photos and videos from India of people having to be admitted on the same hospital bed, mass cremations or worse, lying dead on the streets. All of this was happening while healthcare workers struggled to keep up with the number of cases and were forced to turn people away due to a lack of resources.

Having to see all that made me frustrated with the government’s lack of action, scared for my family and left me feeling helpless. The night I started the fundraiser, I was talking to my parents on the phone and telling them how angry I was and how I wished I could do something to help. I remembered then that a student once set up a fundraiser, so I decided to look into fundraising options and created a GoFundMe fundraiser immediately. Initially, I set a goal of €1000 and to my surprise passed it within a few days, so I increased it to €2500, and now have set a final goal of €5000." 

What is the situation in India like at the moment? 

Preksha: "The situation is slowly getting better as more people are recovering. However, hospitals are still struggling to keep up with the number of infections. There is a lack of resources and those living in rural or underdeveloped areas have to go through a lot more hurdles to get medical attention or resources. Due to high demand, prices of equipment such as oxygen concentrators are increasing, thus making it inaccessible to those who cannot afford it."     

How can people help? How are the contributions being handled and what happens when people donate?

Preksha: "There are a number of charities and organisations that are responding to the situation right now. However, due to a lack of transparency, I decided not to donate to an organisation. Instead, I am using my family in India to help me navigate how to allocate these resources. My cousins are responding to individual requests for medical help where we have donated €220 (INR 20.000) so far. My brother-in-law is purchasing and distributing oxygen concentrators directly to the patients in the Hadoti region of West India. We have already purchased 3 concentrators (€1660,  INR 150.000) and plan to purchase more units moving forward. I chose to handle the contributions in this way so that I could ensure that the money reaches the right people."

AUC would like to thank Preksha for her exemplary initiative and contribution toward assisting with COVID-19 relief in India. If you would like to assist Preksha in reaching her goal, you can read more about the fundraiser and how to donate via the link below.