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Coronavirus Pandemic

FB group helps expats affected by Covid-19 pandemic

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi Filed on July 25, 2020
Covid-19 pandemic

So far, the 265,000-member managed to arrange more than 100 air tickets to the needy on Vande Bharat Mission special flights.

A group of youngsters has been helping thousands of distressed people affected by the impact of Covid-19 for months through a social media page.

In February, sensing an urgent need to mobilise support in response to the Covid-19 situation, three Dubai-based Indian expats Al Nishaj Sahil, Neetu Ashish and Ibrahim Shameer along with Faisal Muhammad from Kerala formed a page on Facebook.

So far, the 265,000-member strong 'All Kerala Pravasi Association' managed to arrange more than 100 air tickets to the needy on Vande Bharat Mission special flights, make provisions for distribution of thousands of food kits and medical aid, and conduct blood donation and free medical camps in the UAE.

"We started a Facebook page with a plan to share information and drum up support. We invited other friends to join. Soon, we had more than 1,000 members. We began to receive and post information about stranded people who needed help. As weeks turned into months, many of them got help from the group members. Word spread and more people joined our movement. Today we have over 265,000 members," said Sahil, who works as an engineer in the public sector. The rest of the core group work at private companies.

The members have been helping the needy with quarantine facilities, holding virtual consultations with doctors and lawyers through live sessions on Facebook and supporting those with financial constraints.

The Facebook page became a platform for people to share their miseries and common concern was lack of money to buy tickets for those stranded for months.

"Once people were struggling to pay for air tickets, we coordinated with businessmen and community members. One lady from Kerala sponsored 31 tickets, another businessman from Oman paid for 10 tickets, and many from the UAE chipped in with a couple of tickets. Till Friday, we offered free tickets to 107 people. For transparency, we have kept proof of each ticket sold. Apart from the UAE and the region, we even have members in Palestine, Jordan, the UK and the US," added Sahil.

There's a plan to open a hypermarket in Kerala for expats who lost their jobs and returned home and help families of the people who died due to Covid-19. The group also conducted live musical concerts online for the members to have a sense of normalcy.



Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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