Student-Led Fundraiser for COVID-19 Relief in India Gathers Widespread Support
by Emma Mattson
The VUSM community can now give directly to COVID-19 relief efforts in India through a new fundraiser organized by med students Shreyas Krishnapura (M1) and Maddy Ball (M2).
All gifts to the fundraiser will go to the Chinmaya Mission, an organization that works directly with numerous hospitals throughout India to purchase necessary equipment and provide financial relief.
For Krishnapura, a first-generation Indian American, the fundraising efforts have deeply personal significance.
“Beyond family members in California, the vast majority of my family is still back in India,” Krishnapura said. “We’re the only ones that we have on this side of the world.”
His extended family remains in India, which has been especially hard-hit by COVID-19 in recent months. Halfway across the world and limited by travel restrictions, Krishnapura felt powerless to help them.
“As much as we want to fly there and take care of my grandmothers— my maternal grandmother is living alone and doesn’t have anyone around her to help her —we can’t do that because it’s just too dangerous,” Krishnapura said.
But when the first-year med student read about a UPenn physician who had raised almost half a million dollars for COVID relief in India, he decided to take action.
“This is another strong and confident Indian American who is taking what little they have and trying to do the most good, even from thousands of miles away,” Krishnapura said. “That was very inspiring to me. I knew that it would be remiss if I didn’t take that opportunity.”
Krishnapura, who serves as the first-year class vice president, reached out to M2 Maddy Ball, with whom he had worked on previous Council of Class Officers projects. Together, the two med students began seeking support from their deans at VUSM.
The institutional support behind this fundraiser reveals a key element of VUSM’s culture: this is a place where student initiatives are robustly supported by the community at all levels.
“We’ve gotten great support from the deans and from the medical center,” Krishnapura said. “I’m already very excited about that support and looking forward to seeing more of that over the next few weeks.”
Global Support on a Local Level
Throughout the entire process, Krishnapura and Ball’s goal is to provide global support on a local level.
“When we walk into the [VUMC] hospital, we know that we’re going into a medical center who explicitly states that their mission is to prevent disease and promote human health,” Krishnapura said. “That statement is a broad statement. It’s not specific to one area of the world.”
For the fundraising organizers, efforts like these offer an opportunity to pursue this mission across the globe while still staying rooted in the Vanderbilt and Nashville community.
“I know this community is strong. I know it’s full of very compassionate people,” Krishnapura said. “I look forward to seeing that same drive and passion directed to another group of people across the world that need our help.”