Washington DC: The coronavirus (COVID-19) originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is established beyond doubt. The virus’s initial outbreak was severely censored and obscured by the Chinese Communist Party, leading to unnecessary global death and recession. By prioritizing party interest over human lives, the CCP jeopardized billions of lives, decapitated the global economy, and the number of deaths has surpassed the fatal casualties of the second world war. Currently, there are over 4 million people that are infected and more than 310,000 reported deaths.
The United States became one of the worst-hit countries in the world by the pandemic, with more than 1.5 million infected cases and over 89,000 deaths so far. As the pandemic spreads like a wildfire in the US, the Office of Tibet, Washington DC called a virtual meeting of Presidents of North America Tibet Associations to take stock of the situations and discuss strategies to cope up with the pandemic. 32 TA Presidents attended the virtual meeting on 1 April, presided over by Representative Ngodup Tsering. No Tibetan infections were reported, but all Tibetan Associations agreed to set up an Emergency Response Team to provide urgent services to their community members if required.
This includes educating Tibetans about health and safety, medical advising, and spiritual and psychological counselling, food prep & delivery to quarantined people, and stimulus money and unemployment benefit advising.
New York State as a whole and Queens, in particular, was the epicentre of the pandemic. Incidentally, Queens is also the place of residence for the majority of Tibetans in NY and hence, they too had a rough sail. In all, we lost two elderly persons from NY to the pandemic, one from Portland and one from Montreal (Canada)— both were over 60 years old.
Several Tibetans in NY were infected and some were admitted into ICUs, but thankfully all recovered. There were also a few COVID positive cases in Toronto, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.
Task Force Responses
The Tibetan Associations rose to the occasion by instituting emergency response teams in each community to cater to various needs during the pandemic. From medical advice to psychological and spiritual guidance to food preparation and delivery to quarantined persons, and hotel rent supplements. Necessary guidance extended to stimulus check to unemployment benefit inquiries.
The Tibetan Associations collected donations of US $35,131 for providing food to the poor and vulnerable people in America during the pandemic. The Office of Tibet-DC presented the check to the President & CEO of Meals on Wheels America, a reputable NGO, that serves hot meals to poor, disabled, and other vulnerable people in the country. The Speaker of the House, State Department and White House were informed of TAs action, and all of them responded with great admiration. The Central Tibetan Administration called out to all Tibetans worldwide to offer donations to the poor and needy during the pandemic to symbolize our gratitude and solidarity during this difficult and uncertain time.
Likewise, several Tibetan Associations sprang into action by feeding the poor. They offered lunches to the first responders, nurses, and doctors. New York Tibetans offered more than 1000 lunches to healthcare staffers in 4 hospitals and also to those who are quarantined.
The Toronto Tibetan Association offered 180 lunches to healthcare workers in collaboration with Tibetan restaurants, and they also prepared surgical masks for distribution. Plans are underway to support remaining hospitals and health care centers.
Minnesota Tibetan Association served 300 meals to the doctors and nurses working in 4 hospitals, and they are planning to serve two more hospitals. Other TAs are planning to do the same in the following days.
The concerned people in the hospitals and nursing homes greatly appreciated the sense of concern and solidarity from the Tibetans. It is also a matter of pride for the Tibetans to see several hundred Tibetan nurses working in the hospitals and health facilities serving the COVID patients.
NGOs & Individual Action
Several Tibetan NGOs offered their time, resources and expertise. Tibetan Nurses Association of NY& NJ deserves special acknowledgement for their service.
The OoT also proudly acknowledges all individual Tibetans who volunteered to help in different ways during the pandemic.
Office of Tibet-DC
The Office of Tibet has been in touch with all TAs from the beginning and offered leadership wherever and whenever necessary. The OoT donated a total of 3,000 face masks to NY&NJ and offered a donation of US $5,000 to help fight the pandemic. Periodic updates were given to Gaden Phodrang Office, CTA President, and Department of Information and International Relations.
“We are immensely grateful to His Holiness for praying for the COVID-19 victims and Tibetans in particular. The Gaden Phodrang Office provided mani rilbus, Tibetan pills, to Tibetan doctors and nurses serving in NY, which numbered around 400. The CTA offered Tibetan immune boosters, but because of the strict lockdown in India, it could not be shipped. We are, however, eagerly awaiting for the boosters,” the OoT said.
“Although the coronavirus is still lingering, NY has started loosening the restrictions in place, which is an indicator that hopefully, normalcy is returning. The TA of NY&NJ has closed down its Task Force after 47 days in hectic service. The Tibetan communities have shown great solidarity and oneness of brotherhood during the difficult time. We congratulate all of you, and especially the President and the board members of TA NY&NJ for their dedication to service.”
-Filed by Office of Tibet, DC