They’re anxious, without work and a long way from home. International students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, overwhelmed with distress in Brisbane, have prompted the city’s Indian community to donate essential groceries at a park bench.
Kishan Vyas said students hit hard by the pandemic and desperate for work raised concerns on a Facebook group popular with the local community.
“There are some of us who have been here years, like ourselves, and blessed with good job security with savings, and thought it would be good to help them,” he said.
“Most international students were doing a lot of casual jobs and relying on that to pay rent and buy groceries.
“There is a lot of distress going on because the government is doing a lot for Australians but there is very limited support for temporary residents.”
Mr Vyas said the community had rallied to provide grocery bags to not only Indian international students but also to anyone else who needed help.
“For some students, we asked them to come to a location to pick up grocery packs and asked some friends to help create $50 grocery packs with essential items like rice, beans, long-life milk, which will go on for one week,” he said.
Mr Vyas said a drop-off area at a West End park on Sunday helped about 20 international students after a call-out on social media.
“We know some students don’t come forward and are too shy because asking for help is not easy,” he said.
“They could come, pick up a bag and don’t have to share their name if they don’t want to.”
Mr Vyas said they were also helping others who needed medicine such as Panadol. Some people who had big homes were welcoming students to stay in exchange for taking on some housework.
“Some are willing to share rooms. It’s like they are getting into that position that they will run out of money to pay rent,” he said.
Mr Vyas said he urged people to donate towards grocery vouchers as shopping restrictions were making it more difficult to support those in need.
“I know there are more people in the same position that need help,” he said.
“We’re doing the best we could do at this point to help.”
Source: Brisbane Times