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Fund-raiser to support COVID-19 relief in India raises $1.35 million

A fund-raiser to support COVID-19 relief in India raised about $1.35 million over the weekend, according to organizers.

Donations from about 50 people will allow the American India Foundation to purchase about 1,350 oxygen concentrators, said Raj Sharma, a founder of the Boston chapter of AIF, in a phone interview Sunday morning. The concentrators will provide oxygen to about 81,000 people each month.

“It’s a massive help,” he said.

Sharma said he had anticipated raising about $1 million, and the Saturday night Zoom fund-raiser exceeded expectations. He said he expects more donations to come in throughout the week.

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“The impact will be immediate and life-saving,” he said.

There is an urgent need for oxygen concentrators in India, where people are dying due to a “basic lack of oxygen and shortage of hospital beds,” he said.

The oxygen concentrators will go to government-run hospitals in India, which serve impoverished communities for free, he said.

“That’s where the help is needed,” Sharma said. “We are making a significant impact in areas like New Delhi and Bombay, which are basically the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Sharma thanked other AIF leaders. including his wife, Nalini, Brian and Sunita Pereira, Venkat and Pratima Srinivasan, director of development Nirmala Garimella, and program director Suchitra Krishna for their work.

“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who contributed,” he said. “They’re giving the gift of breath.”


Andrew Stanton can be reached at andrew.stanton@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @_andrewstanton.