Source: The New Indian Express
April 20, 2020
WASHINGTON: A group of Hindu organisations in the US has launched an exclusive helpline to address the issues faced by thousands of Indian students amidst the unprecedented coronavirus crisis that has left a large number of them stranded and without accommodation.
The ‘COVID-19 Student Support Network’ helpline, 802-750-YUVA (9882), is a collective initiative of Hindu Yuva, Bharatiya, Vivekananda House and Sewa International.
Being run by 90 students, who have volunteered for the cause from across the country, the helpline will assist Indian students in distress in various areas including delivery of essential supplies as groceries and medicines and providing them with accommodation, if they do not have any place to live, said Prem Rangwani, one of the local organisers from Washington DC.
The helpline, which also has experts and professionals as volunteers, would also provide counselling to Indian students on immigration-related issues and provide them with resources on mental health issues if needed.
According to Gaurav Singhal, one of the organisers from New Jersey, the support network plans to organise webinar to filter the chaotic and confusing information available by hosting experts on a wide variety of topics such as immigration, finances and health.
Around 250,000 Indian students are enrolled in various American universities and almost all of which have been shut down.
The students have been asked to vacate their hostels.
Several universities, but not all, have made special provisions for accommodating international students.
Still, a large number of them have to find their own accommodation.
Several hotel and motel owners, and a number of Indian community organisations have come forward to provide temporary housing to needy students.
COVID-19 Student Support Network has been working with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association and other Indian volunteers to provide them with accommodation.