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24-year-old Ian Grillot Honored as “A True American Hero” by Houston’s Indian American Community

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Ian Grillot receiving pleasantries from Kansas ' Governor Sam Brownback, Facebook

Houston, Mar 31, 2017: The 24-year-old, young American Ian Grillot, was injured, when he took a bullet, trying to grab the 51-year-old navy veteran Adam Purinton – who shot at two Indians last month at a bar-cum-grill in Olathe, Kansas, has been honoured as “A True American Hero” by Houston’s Indian American community which raised $100,000 to help him buy a house in his hometown Kansas.

India’s ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna handed over the cheque to Grillot, who was honoured at the 14th annual gala of India House Houston here.

A statement posted on India House Houston Facebook page said, “On behalf of the Indian-American community in Houston, India House recognised this selfless act beyond the call of duty and has extended the community’s gratitude to Ian Grillot by helping him to buy a house”.

India House, a community center built by the Indian-American community in the Greater Houston area, has succeeded in raising the $100,000 as part of an initiative supported by India’s consul-general in Houston-Anupam Ray, to help Grillot buy a house in his hometown, mentioned PTI.

Grillot had said, “I don’t know if I could’ve lived with myself if I wouldn’t have stopped or attempted to stop the shooter because that would’ve been completely devastating”

“I do now have a very powerful message and if I can help empower people and spread hope and love, then why not? I am honored to be at India House that serves so many families from so many communities in the Houston area.”

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Sarna said it was a “great privilege” to meet Grillot and his parents. He had said “I was keen to come here today because I was told that Ian Grillot will be honoured…. He is a young man who has shown exceptional courage, strength of very fundamental human values. No amount of honour that India or the Indian Americans bestow on him will be re-compensed enough for that moment of exceptional fortitude and character”.

The vibrant Indian diaspora in America has always contributed towards the society and economy of the US, Ray had said. “They are the ambassadors of Indian culture. They are playing a vital role in strengthening the ties between the two nations and cultures.”

– Prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself

 

 

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Sewa International Houston Chapter Distributes 30,000 Masks to First Responders

Sewa International, a leading Hindu faith based, Indian American nonprofit organization

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India’s Consul General in Houston, Aseem Mahajan (second from right), and Councilwoman Martha Castex-Tatum (fourth from right), were present when protective gear was distributed to San Jacinto Sheriff officials.

Sewa International’s Houston Chapter donated 30,000 N95, KN95 and 3ply masks and 20,000 ounces of hand sanitizer on Saturday, April 25  to first responders such as healthcare workers, police officers, fire fighters, and hospital staff in an invitation-only drive-through event  as part of its COVID-19 relief efforts. The PPE distribution drive was from 11 am but vehicles started lining up from 9 am itself, stretching for more than half-a-mile long in two lanes by the time distribution started at 11 am, indicating the dire need of PPE’s in the Houston area. 

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Vehicles lined up in two lanes ready to pick up the masks and sanitizers.

Dr Randeep Suneja was one of the doctors who acknowledged this effort: “Thanks to Sewa International for providing free masks and sanitizers to physicians in the Houston area including our practice. Sewa is doing an incredible job! Keep up the good work!”

Amity Home Health, a Houston area home health agency was there too, and expressed their thanks to Sewa: “We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Sewa International USA for their much needed distribution of masks and sanitizers to healthcare professionals in the Houston area. Kudos to your humanitarian efforts and tireless volunteers who helped make this project a reality. Thank you!”

“Not all angels have wings. Thank you Sewa International,” posted Health Choice Clinic folks on social media. “It is our mission to support people on the frontline in our fight against COVID-19 pandemic by providing them with personal protection gear (PPE) to stay safe. Our physicians, nurses, healthcare workers, fire fighters and police officers are putting their lives on the line to protect our country against the pandemic and we thank them,” said Sewa International Houston Chapter President Gitesh Desai. 

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Councilman Edward Pollard and Councilwoman Martha Castex-Tatum addressing the media at the distribution venue.

“We distributed the protective gear to about 100 agencies including county officials and the Sheriff’s Department from the Houston area and received a tremendous response to and appreciation of the drive. About 20 volunteers and a few key donors made this event possible. We plan to continue this drive every week until the situation improves,” said Mr. Desai.

India’s Consul General in Houston Aseem Mahajan, Houston City Council Members, Councilwoman Martha Castex-Tatum from District K, and Councilman Edward Pollard from District J were present during the drive and helped distribute masks. 

In another event, Sewa volunteers also distributed meals to Harris County’s Public Health Department’s Katy Testing Center located in Katy, TX. Sewa International operates one of its eight COVID-19 helplines from Houston and provides non-medical advice and information to the people to address COVID-19 related issues.  

About Sewa International

Sewa International, a leading Hindu faith based, Indian American nonprofit organization, has extensive experience in disaster rescue, relief, and rehabilitation operations having responded to 24 disasters in the US and abroad. In 2017, after Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston area, Sewa volunteers helped in the rescue of nearly 700 people, and have served thousands of affected families since then through their case management service. Sewa raised over $3 million for Hurricane Harvey recovery, Sewa continues to rebuild houses, and, greenhouses that serve as a means of livelihood. Sewa International has also rendered relief in the wake of hurricane Maria in 2018 and Hurricane Imelda in 2019. Sewa teams in the San Francisco Bay Area continue to build and donate tiny homes for those rendered homeless in California Camp Fire of November 2018. 

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Among its other accolades, Sewa International has been recognized by Charity Navigator – the premier nonprofit rating agency. Pixabay

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Among its other accolades, Sewa International has been recognized by Charity Navigator – the premier nonprofit rating agency – as the number five among the “10 Highly Rated Charities Relying on Private Contributions.” Sewa has for the last three years continuously scored the topmost-rated 4-star from Charity Navigator, and has earned perfect scores for its Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency

 

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Patient Suspected to Kill Indian Doctor in the US

A second case of the killing of an Indian doctor in Kansas has shocked the masses

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In addition to providing psychiatric care, Dr Achutha Reddy also treated chronic physical pain and expounded a system he called "Absolute Yoga". (IANS)

Kansas, September 15, 2017 : An Indian doctor was stabbed to death in Kansas state of the US. One of his patients has been arrested as a suspect in the stabbing death, according to police.

Achutha Reddy’s death in Witchita on Wednesday is the second killing this year of an Indian in Kansas where Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead in February. Both hailed form Telengana.

The 21-year-old man, who was arrested as a suspect in Reddy’s killing, was identified as Umar Rashid Dutt in jail booking records, according to TV station KAKE.

The attack on Reddy, 57, began in his clinic and ended in a nearby lane as the fleeing doctor was chased down by the assailant, the police said.

Reddy, who introduced yoga in his treatment, was mourned by fellow doctors and the community, who held him in esteem.

Police Lieutenant Todd Ojile said on Thursday in a media briefing video posted on the Wichita Police website that the office manager of Reddy’s Holistic Psychiatric Services heard a disturbance in the doctor’s office on Wednesday evening around 7 p.m. and saw the assault taking place when he went in.

The manager tried to stop the attack allowing Reddy to flee, but he was chased by the assailant and killed in a second assault in an alley behind the clinic, Ojile said.

He said that Reddy had several stab wounds and was pronounced dead by the emergency medical team that responded.

The suspect was arrested near a country club a short time later, when a security guard alerted police to a man covered with blood in a car, Ojile said.

He was still in custody on Thursday morning and Ojile said the case was likely to be given to the district prosecutor’s office on Friday afternoon.

Pending the filing of formal charges, police did not give out the arrested man’s name, which was found by the media in jail records.

According to TV station KAKE, a Wichita State University spokesman said Dutt was a former student and was last enrolled in the spring of 2015.

The Wichita Eagle newspaper said that Reddy, who graduated from Hyderabad’s Osmania Medical College in 1986, did an internship at St. Louis University in 1994 and a residency at the Kansas University School of Medicine-Wichita in 1998.

He practiced in Wichita for more than two decades and opened his own practice in 2003, the newspaper said.

In YouTube videos Reddy said that in addition to providing psychiatric care he also treated chronic physical pain and expounded a system he called “Absolute Yoga”.

He said that he had suffered chronic back pain for 10 years and that led led him to conduct research and develop the system which emphasised having the “right mindset”.

Fellow doctors and members of the community said his death was a loss to society.

The Wichita Eagle newspaper quoted Denis Knight, president of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, as saying: “The Medical Society is heartbroken over the loss of Reddy.”

Achutha Reddy’s wife, Beena Reddy, is also a doctor and Denis said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to her. Reddy’s death is a tragic loss to our community.”

The newspaper quoted Brenda Trammel, a psychotherapist at his clinic, as saying: “Reddy was an amazing, compassionate man who was kind and loving to anyone he met. He had a gift of knowing what each and everyone of us needed and gave it freely.”

April Marie Schlenker from Kansas State University said in a post on TV station KAKE’s site: “Reddy was so unique to any one else I have ever met in the therapy/psychiatric world. He connected almost instantly with people. His eyes held wisdom and secrets and joy.”

A former patient, Maria William, wrote, “He was always a good and caring doctor for his patients. Reddy you will be greatly missed by many people. Fly high with the angels.”

While some posters demanded hanging the killer or taking strong measures, a medical professional, Pedro Murati, said: “In these sad times we must remember what Achutha would have wanted after such a horror.”

Projecting “anger towards the mentally ill would be the last thing on his mind”, he added.

In February, Kuchibotla’s killing in Olathe by a white man shouting: “Get out of my country”, has been denounced as a white racist hate crime, but Reddy’s does not fit that description.

Kuchibotla’s killer, Adam Purinton, 51, has been charged with first-degree murder and with attempted murder in shooting and injuring Alok Madasan (IANS)

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UNICEF Calls for Action : 16 Million Children Continue to Suffer as Floods in South Asia Claim More than 1,300 Lives

According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

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India army soldiers carry children rescued from flood affected villages near Thara in Banaskantha district, Gujarat, India (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki) (VOA)
  • Floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have claimed more than 1,300 lives in the last two months
  • According to UNICEF, over 16 million children in the three countries are in urgent need of life-saving support
  • Persistent rainfall has damaged school infrastructure, apart from depriving children of safe places to stay at, and necessities like drinking water and food

New Delhi, September 4, 2017 : Hurricane Harvey created havoc in Houston in August, claiming 15 lives and displacing tens of thousands of people. The event was largely covered by national and international media alike, keeping people abreast with the latest updates. However, the floods in South Asia, which are equally devastating, are yet to receive due coverage from international media. According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

In its entirety, over 45 million people have suffered the direct impact of the rains and its resulting floods.

Floods in South Asia

For over two months, incessant rains have submerged numerous villages thereby forcing vast numbers of people into evacuation centers and relief camps.

According to a UN Agency report, over 16 million children residing in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are in dire need of life-saving support due to weeks of torrential monsoons that have given rise to ‘catastrophic’ floods in the three South Asian countries.

UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, Jean Gough noted that millions of children have already been affected by these devastating floods as incessant rains continue to pose potential threat.  “Children have lost their homes, schools, and even friends and loved ones. There is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south,” she added, according to a report by PTI.

According to official figures, at least 1,288 deaths have been reported since mid-August.

Gough believes the persistent rainfall and the resulting water accumulation have damaged school infrastructure among other things which will hamper children from attending classes for weeks, or even months. According to her, “Getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down”

Among other urgent needs of these children are clean drinking water, sufficient food supplies, hygiene supplies to control and combat the spread of potential diseases and safe evacuation places for the children to stay at, study and play.

ALSO READ Thousands displaced in Myanmar due to floods

Devastation from floods in India

According to a report by PTI, in the northern part of the country, over 31 million people have been affected in four states due to the extensive flooding. Out of this, 12.33 million sufferers are believed to be children.

The tally of houses damaged by the floods has reached 805,183 while 15,455 schools have been damaged, that has disrupted the education of children.

Additionally, the heavy downpour in Mumbai has already claimed five deaths due to drowning while twelve people, including two children have died due to the collapse of a building.

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Rescue operations are being undertaken in these states by their respective state governments, which include carrying out relief, recovery and rehabilitation operations.

Furthermore, the state governments have also sought multi-sectoral planning and coordination support from UNICEF in the three worst affected states. These include Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.

Devastation from floods in Bangladesh

According to Oxfam, with the rising water levels, the flooding is believed to be the worst since 1988 with nearly two-thirds of the country currently submerged under water.

More than 8 million people are reported to have been hit by the floods in Bangladesh, out of which 3 million are allegedly children. Primary and community educational institutions across the country have been terribly hit with as many as 2,292 schools reportedly damaged by the high water.

The country has also reported over 13,035 cases of water-borne diseases.

Devastation from floods in Nepal

Floods in Nepal have displaced 352,738 people from their homes, thus, affecting over 1.7 million people. The water has reportedly surfaced to dangerous levels, to escape which people are making use of makeshift rafts and elephants for rescue operations.

According to a report by PTI, damage to nearly 1,958 schools has affected the education of over 253,605 children.

Major media giants across the world are pledging their support to help combat the scale of  destruction.

In a blog post, Google Vice-President of South East Asia and India wrote, “We are committing $1 million from Google.org and Google employees to Goonj and Save the Children for their relief efforts.”

The NGO, Goonj aims to offer assistance to over 75,000 affected families across India and provide them with basic needs like food, blankets and hygiene supply while on the other hand, Save the Children is focused on setting up child-friendly public spaces for the children to have access to educational material.

Similar organizations have taken up an active role to help rebuild infrastructure for the community like roads, bridges and physical infrastructures.

What causes floods in South Asia?

Apart from the high magnitude of rainfall received this year, the floods in south Asia are believed to have been aggravated by human actions such as reckless construction on floodplains and in the coastal areas, waterways clogged by garbage and a faulty drainage system

According to a report published by VOA, experts have pointed out the inefficiency of the governments of the three countries and have said that is has become increasingly evident that the South Asian governments were unprepared for the annual monsoon showers.

However, disaster management officials also assert that it will be unfair to criticize the governments in view of the magnitude of the floods this year.


 

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