By Pragya Kaushika
New Delhi [India], May 10 (ANI): They worked the phone lines from early morning till late night to lend Indians stranded in the United Kingdom a helping hand and emotional support.
Be it food, medical help or counselling, a group of Indians settled in the UK came out to help not just students but all Indians stranded in the country due to COVID-19 lockdown.
This group, Indian National Student Association (INSA) in the UK, came to aid of many Indians helping them to survive almost two months of unprecedented situation triggered due to COVID-19 outbreak worldwide.
While the government of India began the mission of evacuating Indians stranded abroad giving hope to many who are still awaiting their return, INSA ensured that Indians locked down in the UK and other nations won't lose their dignity and mental balance.
Air India's first evacuation flight from London would be landing in Mumbai soon.
From collecting and disbursing verified information on flights, steps taken by Embassies, helping them fill forms for repatriation to calming their anxieties till they receive an official reply, this group of relatively young professionals handheld many Indians who were stuck abroad.
Speaking to ANI from London, Amit Tiwari, a banker by profession and President of INSA-UK said that as the organisation works primarily for students, there are varied challenges being faced by students, mental health being the biggest of them.
"Mental health issue is a big challenge. You need qualified people to handle them. There are students who have got stuck on campuses while local students have gone back to their homes. Foreign students are inside these campuses which are no less than small townships. These students are feeling lonely and we are reaching out to them, talking to them and asking them to stay positive," said Tiwari.
"There are people who have come here on short term visa or have come to undertake exam or there are tourists from India, they started contacting us. We sent across messages to those who wanted to help. We have been partnering with other organisations like Friends of India International as well. As living here is expensive and stringent rules to get medicines, we helped Indians out. We have a team of doctors and they provide consultancy regularly. We got distress calls from the US, Chile, Australia, Germany and others," Tiwari further added.
The organisation has deployed a 14 member team manning the telephones calls 8 am to 10 pm and one in Singapore answering emails. While another team keeps checking social media to provide information from government sources. The core team aims to provide medical and legal advice to people in distress.
"There are students who have paid fee and accommodation upfront and need a refund. We have qualified people to point them in the right direction. Food supplies are a challenge simply because they are low on funds. They need money to buy a flight ticket when they get a chance to get back to India. People have been rationing and we need to sometimes provide food. Sometimes we find a person living close to them to deliver food," said Tiwari who has been touch with government authorities to provide credible information to the stranded.
The organisation has also put in a request to the Embassy to provide flights to major airports in India. (ANI)