Dubai: Community associations, welfare groups, business entities and individual expats from Kerala in the UAE have joined forces to send medical support to their home state in India for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first consignment of the medical aid from expats in the UAE took off from Dubai on Tuesday, said O.V. Mustafa, UAE-based director of Norka Roots department for expatriate Keralites.
The move came after an appeal from the state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to the expatriate Malayalis across the world to support the state in its battle against the pandemic. Following this, an initiative named “Care for Kerala” was launched under Norka Roots.
In the UAE, relief works of Malayali community groups were coordinated under OV Mustafa and Loka Kerala Sabha Standing Committee chairman and Norka director Dr Azad Moopen, who is also the chairman and managing director of UAE-based Aster DM Healthcare.
The collection and shipment of the sponsored relief materials were channelised through Aster Volunteers and International Humanitarian City (IHC) Dubai.
The first consignment worth around Rs5.5million was airlifted through IHC Dubai via Emirates Cargo, said Jaleel PA, head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Aster DM Healthcare.
Emirates had launched a humanitarian air-bridge to transport COVID-19 relief free of cost to India. The government of India had also waived import duties on medical equipment, medicines and supplies for COVID-19 donations.
The relief items sent to Kerala in the first shipment include four medical ventilators, 43 oxygen concentrators, 171 oxygen cylinders and 2.830 pulse oximeters.
Groups that sponsored the relief materials include Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre, UAE, World Malayalee Council units, All Kerala Colleges Alumni Forum (AKCAF) Volunteers, AKCAF Events, Model Service Society, Oruma Ruwais, Association of Kerala Medical Graduates, Engineers Community, Kairali Fujairah, Indian School, Al Ain, ORMA,, RAI Int’l FZCO, UHY James CA, Rays of Hope Al Ain, WMC Al Ain Women’s Forum, Anbodu UAE, Tharattu Al Ain, Sevanam Al Ain, Welfare Association of Kannur Expats, Al Ain Malayalee Samajam, Yuva Kalasahithi, Al Zaytoon Fujairah
Contributions were also made on an individual level by OVM and friends, Shamnad and friends, Devassy Jose, Akhil Vinayak, Jayasree Linob.
Mustafa said more relief items would be sent in the second shipment. “We have received several other promises including ventilators, as well as setting up of oxygen plants. These will be reconfirmed once the goods are received or payments are made to vendors.”
Similar initiatives are taking place across the GCC and all these activities are greatly appreciated, he said, requesting individuals and organisations to expedite their delivery or payments to vendors at the earliest. The contributions from Bahrain were also sent on Tuesday.
“The documentation process for the second shipment from the UAE will be initiated tomorrow. The anticipated date for the take-off of the second consignment is May 31. Hence, I request all associations and social groups to come forward and procure or deliver items so as to reach Aster DM warehouse latest by May 29,” he added.
More aid in the pipeline
Apart from logistical support, Jaleel said the team from Aster Volunteers has also been extending support to sponsors in procuring quality materials at best price from various vendors in the UAE or India.
He said more support has been pipelined for immediate future by various sponsors for oxygen cylinders, HFNC (High Flow Nasal Cannula) and oxygen generator plants etc to be used in various government hospitals across Kerala.
“Total support anticipated in the initial phase of consignment is above Rs10million excluding the oxygen generator plants.”
Kerala grateful to expats
Speaking to Gulf News over the phone from Kerala, K. Harikrishnan Namboothiri, CEO of Norka Roots, lauded the contributions from the expatriate Malayalis and said the state would be grateful to them.
“This has once again shown the harmony and cooperation of our expatriate community which we can feel in the times of distress,” he said, recalling the huge contributions made by expats during the devastating floods in Kerala in 2018 and 2019.
“The new contribution has come from an amalgamation of entities representing a cross section of the expats from multiple organisations who have joined for a common cause. This will help the state in a big way in battling this global pandemic.”
Thanking and appreciating the expatriates for their contributions, he added: “They are the pillars of our state not only for the development of the state. They have been a trusted and reliable support during periods of distress.”
Kerala has so far reported more than 2.3 million COVID-19 cases and 7,731 deaths. The state currently has 255406 cases of active infection while 2132071 patients have recovered.