The Indian-American community in Houston and across the United States has not only opened its homes, hearts and wallets, but also expertise for the victims of hurricane Katrina rendered homeless after it inflicted largescale devastation along the Gulf Coast.
About 38 Indo-American associations in Houston are working together through Indo-American Charities Foundation and have decided to raise US$ 1 million for food, volunteers, medical aid, health, shelter, hotel rooms, temporary jobs,medical assistance, computer assistance and hygiene products.
"We have asked everyone to pitch forward generously and chip in to meet the challenge and make a difference. The immediate goal is to raise US$ 150,000 before September 19 and the amount so raised will go towards feeding 25,000 people, three meals for a whole day," IACF president Sheela Rao said.
There has been an outpouring of generosity and concern from the people and "I am sure we will meet this goal," she said.
IACF, whose goal is to help the poor, the homeless, underprivileged, and the needy with monetary, in kind and volunteer contributions through established Houston area charitable organisations, raised and distributed US$ 27,000 to various charities in the US and in India during tsunami relief efforts.
The Asian American Hotel Owners association has donated US$ 100,000 toward the relief efforts through the American Red Cross and other initiatives.
Several Indian doctors have offered their services for this cause through the Indian Doctors Association working with the Harris County Medical Society.
"It's amazing that in times like this all our doctors poured their heart and time out to help our community. Some even canceled their schedules just to help the needy victims," said Dr Rakesh Mangal, president of IDA.
Various computer professionals are assisting to set up Astrodome Community Technology Center, which enables people to register themselves and help find their kin online.
In addition, various other organisations throughout the US have risen to this occasion. Sewa International USA and Hindus of Greater Houston are also coordinating volunteer services with the Hindu temples, and Indian-American organisations.
Besides, BAPS is also distributing emergency supplies of toiletries, medicines, cooking utensils, disposable kitchenware items (plates, knives and spatulas), and over 15 grocery items including milk, biscuits, sugar, salt and cooking oil.
The Federation of Indian Associations, an umbrella body of Indian-American organisations based in the tri-state area, announced the setting up of a special Katrina Fund to help the victims.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has urged all Hindus in America to rise to the occasion and has appealed its hundreds of volunteers in all 90 chapters of HSS to help through collecting donations, canned foods, cookies, crackers, medical supplies and blankets.
India Development & Relief Fund volunteers in Baton Rouge, LA, are working with American Red Cross and local voluntary organisations to assist in relief efforts.