Indian community survives COVID-19 by leaning on each other

Friends set up daily meal programme

Habeebbabu Sarbudeen plates the meals for delivery.

Members of Cayman’s Indian community head back to their home country Friday with their heads held high after helping each other through an “unimaginable experience” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of Indian nationals have been stranded in Cayman without jobs or income since the crisis began.

With India’s borders closed, it has been impossible for them to return home. They have survived by leaning on each other for support.

Naveentha Krishnan and Senthil Periyasamy told the Compass they and their friends, with the support of the wider community, had made and delivered nearly 2,000 meals to friends who were without work during the height of the crisis.

Periyasamy, who is on sabbatical from his job at the Ritz-Carlton, said he had been lucky that his employer had helped with some pay and food. Others were not so fortunate.

“After a few weeks we came to know that our friends had difficulties with their daily routine. No food, no money, they were starving.

“We organized to help and make one meal per day. With kind-hearted people helped with groceries and donations and spending their time cooking and delivering meals.”

Naveentha Krishnan and Senthil Periyasamy

Krishnan, who works at Paperman’s coffee shop and kept some shifts during the pandemic, said he and his flatmates had managed to deliver daily meals to around 90 people for seven weeks.

“These were our friends,” he said, “so we wanted to do something to help them.”

He said numerous people had helped with groceries, bags of rice or money for food. Those that couldn’t donate financially, donated time.

Periyasamy, added, “We would like to thank each one of our Indian friends for the helpful contribution toward our daily lunch meal project. We appreciated the efforts. They all made it possible.”

Sriram Rathinasamy stirs the pot to help with the lunch programme

Both men are leaving the island on Friday, but they hope others will pick up where they left off and help support those in need if there is another outbreak and more people are left without work and food.

“When we leave, we hope that others will take over, “ added Periyasamy.

The six people responsible for the meal project were -Marcus Joseph Raj, Joe Lambert, Tony Rozario, Naveen Santhanam, Krishnan and Periyasamy.

They say they received help and support from many in the community, including the Tamilnadu cricket club.

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