RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. (KGTV) - The Rotary Club of Rancho Bernardo is answering a plea for help from half a world away, as COVID-19 continues to ravage India.
In January 2020, Mike Fuqua and a small group representing the Rancho Bernardo Rotary Club spent nearly two weeks in the city of Agra, India, the home of the Taj Mahal, helping administer polio vaccines to children in rural villages.
“People in Rotary talk about their ’Rotary’ moment. That was certainly one of them,” said Fuqua.
More than a year later, the local service organization was once again called into action amid a massive COVID-19 surge in India.
“It's heartbreaking to see what this is doing to the people. It’s hard to take,” said Fuqua.
“The mood of the people is very tense. We don't know what we should do, because everyone is dying,” said Rahul Wadhwa.
From his home, Wadhwa, Fuqua’s Rotary Club counterpart in Agra, India, spoke of the dire situation in his city: an oxygen and vaccine shortage, and a surplus of desperation. He said those testing positive for COVID-19 are overwhelming hospitals, including many in underserved areas.
“Some … don’t have masks. They are spreading the infection … All the big panic has been created,” said Wadhwa.
In response, Wadhwa said his local leaders have asked for him to distribute COVID support kits, which include masks, thermometers and oximeters, allowing more of those with COVID-19 to quarantine at home.
“We will stop the panic. We will stop the rush. We will give them a chance to the other people who are serious … emergency, so their life can be saved,” said Wadhwa.
Back in San Diego, Fuqua went right to work, starting multiple fundraisers, including a GoFundMe campaign.
San Diegans have responded, raising more than $10,000 and enough money to create 400 hundred kits. The goal is to create at least 600 more kits.
“I am really excited and thankful for San Diego ... We definitely will save lives,” said Wadhwa.