PROVIDING EMERGENCY RELIEF TO INDIA
W Bro Saurabh Patel LGR reports
During the month of May, the world watched in horror at the devastating effect the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was having in India. As the scale of the unfolding disaster became more apparent, many Brothers turned to provide help in whichever way they could.
For many members of the Shield of David Lodge No 7926, it was also personal. The Lodge includes several Indian members with strong personal and professional connections in India. They were already providing individual assistance when, on the 28th of April, W Bro Harold Karmel PAGDC suggested that the Lodge as a whole could come together and do something to support the Brethren in India.
As the Charity Steward, W Bro Saurabh Patel LGR took the lead and with the support of the Almoner, W Bro Bimal Patel, contacted all members of the Lodge to raise funds. They were looking for the best way to contribute to the global emergency relief. W Bro Hiten Naik, Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge, was already involved with the charity Vallabh Youth Organisation UK (VYO). Working with sister organisations worldwide, VYO had set out a task to purchase and deliver 500 Oxygen Concentrators, 25 Ventilators and 5 Oxygen Production Plants to the hospitals of the city of Vadodara in the state of Gujarat, India.
This project appealed to the Brethren of the Lodge, not only because it provides immediate relief by way of emergency aid, but also because it contributes to building an infrastructure for future use. This legacy will continue to allow the poor and people in need to be hospitalised during the Covid pandemic and, later, for any kind of illness that requires oxygen support.
Time was critical and within less than 36 hours of initiating this exceptional fundraising, the Lodge had managed to collect and donate £2,100 to the charity. VYO immediately sent the Lodge’s contribution to Vadodara, where it was put to good use. Not only did it serve to distribute over 350 oxygen concentrators to patients who needed them, but it also joined the £125,000 fund required to build four oxygen plants for Vadodara Hospitals. These plants were virtually inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Gujarat on the 12th of May. The incredible speed at which money was raised, sent, and used has undoubtedly helped save lives.
W Bro Patel didn’t stop there. He reached out to other Lodges and Chapters of which he is a member. For instance, he contacted his fellow Charity Stewards, and involved his connections within Freemasonry and beyond to inspire others to follow in his footsteps. Many, if not all, responded promptly and generously. All these efforts combined have allowed the purchase of 20 oxygen concentrators to be used in 5 small villages near the town of Nadiad in the state of Gujarat.
For the Brethren who have contributed so keenly, helping India in such a time of need is of course, of prime importance. But it is also very close to their heart that the funds and efforts serve to build a legacy. After addressing the urgent necessities driven by the current humanitarian crisis, the infrastructure built through such donations will keep on delivering much-needed help in the affected region. The Lodges who contributed wanted to ensure their efforts would continue to benefit their Brothers from India for years to come.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 45 July 2021 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 45.