Here in Australia, it wasn’t until recent cases of COVID-19 forced Melbourne residents into a week-long lockdown that we were reminded of the pains of the global pandemic. Since the height of lockdown, Australia has somehow forged on, with the pandemic largely contained as each month, restrictions ease and now, as the vaccine begins its rollout across the nation, many can only sense with anticipation the return of life as we once knew it. But to the turn on the TV is to see a very different reality, one where the pandemic hasn’t gone but it simply waiting, ready to rear its head yet again, throwing families, individuals and businesses all into turmoil.
We’ve watched with grave concern as India struggles to navigate a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, one which has left millions of people infected as the country grapples with an already overtaxed healthcare system. As The New York Times reports, an average of 190,392 cases per day have been recorded in India in just the last week, despite the fact cases have decreased by 42 per cent from the average two weeks ago. There was a time when India was responsible for more than half of the world’s daily coronavirus cases, with a record-breaking pace of about 400,000 a day. Still, since the beginning of the pandemic at least 1 in 49 residents have been infected, with a total of more than 27 million cases. Currently, India has recorded a total of 325,872 deaths as a result of the coronavirus but as many fear, these figures grossly understate the true scale of the pandemic in the country.
If you’ve felt helpless in your desire to help, you’re not alone. Thankfully, AIA Vitality Ambassador and professional endurance athlete Samantha Gash, has created an opportunity for everyone around the world to come together in solidarity through Relief Run. If the name of the event sounds familiar, it should. Last year, when Australia was left reeling from the devastation caused by catastrophic bushfires, Relief Run raised more than $1 million in support of Australian bushfire relief efforts. As a World Vision Goodwill Ambassador, Gash is now looking to recreate the experience of 2020’s run, only this year the run will look to raise lifesaving funds for the people of India devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the weekend of the 11th, 12th and 13th June, participants all over the world are invited to run or walk 5km, 10km or a half-marathon at a location and time that suits you. There will be no starting line you need to rush off to, or a specific cut-off time you need to meet, rather, this is an opportunity to get outdoors, get active, and do something with a purpose. From Laura Henshaw to David Beckham, a number of AIA Vitality ambassadors are supporting the cause. As Beckham said, “The situation across India has been heart-breaking to see. Whatever we can do to help in any way is really important and I’m proud to support Samantha and this great initiative to raise vital funds and awareness for the relief efforts across India.”
While those around the world have watched stunned as the crisis worsens in India, Gash’s reaction isn’t just that of someone with a conscience, but rather someone with a personal connection to the country. In 2016, Gash completed Run India, a 3,200km run from the west to the east of India in an effort to raise funds for World Vision education initiatives. The journey, which took three months to complete, saw Gash visit some of the country’s most poverty-stricken corners where she forged lasting relationships with the families and children she met.
“The scale of the tragedy in India is heartbreaking, but I feel confident the generosity of Australians can make a difference. I think every one of us has some connection to India and is devastated by the ever-increasing scale of loss,” said Gash. “It is heart-wrenching to see the endless suffering of individuals and vulnerable communities that are now at even greater risk.”
All funds raised by Relief Run will go directly towards the World Vision’s Covid-19 India crisis appeal, which is responding to lifesaving needs for equipment and supplies, including beds, oxygen, concentrators, food vouchers and tents for temporary coronavirus care centres.
For more details on how to register and participate in the Relief Run, visit the offical website here. To donate to World Vision’s COVID-19 India crisis appeal, visit the official donation page here.
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