Satish Nair was made Chair of Covid19 Assistance by the Indian Society of WA (ISWA) sometime in April 2020.
“At that time none of us knew what was expected of us or how long this would go on. We started off by collecting donations from members and from other member associations,” Satish recalled.
“The type of assistance we provided included providing groceries, financial support, free bikes and food delivery bags, as well as helping with accommodation.”
Grocery were distributed to the doorsteps of people who were hesitant to go outside.
“A wonderful team of volunteers assisted with achieving these results. This help was largely for international students mostly of Indian origin, although it did involve students of up to 12 nationalities.
“In recognition of the wonderful work we did, the Western Australian Government through Lotterywest provided us with a grant of $188,000 to support the needs of people experiencing financial hardship and food stress. This work is ongoing and is expected to continue up to February 2021.”
Satish and ISWA helped more than 1000 students at the peak of the pandemic. Satish was also involved in organising repatriation flights for parents of Western Australian Indian community members.
“We helped more than 600 passengers in three separate flights to reach India, when no major airlines were operating. We were also able to get the flights at a price that was by far the best at the time.
“The first such flight on 22 July was to New Delhi. We achieved this by negotiating with various airlines and chartering companies, and working out the best rates to help the community. Two subsequent flights happened on 29 July and 7 August.
“The emotions and feelings of people we were able to help were very visible and can be seen in the live videos posted on the day on ISWA’s Facebook page.
“This work has given a different dimension to the activities carried out by ISWA, which is a not for profit organisation run purely by volunteers.
“I feel very proud to have been able to volunteer by helping people who were stranded.”
The Office of Multicultural Interests recognises the hard work and commitment of CaLD community members. Many organisations are run by volunteers could not carry out their important work without them.
International Volunteer Day (IVD) is held each year on 5 December. For more information visit www.volunteeringaustralia.org