A Queens resident launched a Facebook group for the borough’s Nepalese community to assist one another during the COVID-19 emergency, and to connect volunteers with those in need of things like groceries and medicine.
Community activist Yadab Bastola, 39, imagined the platform as a space where people can reach out for help during the crisis. He started the Facebook community, Urgent Nepali Aid for Covid19, on March 23. It now has about 1,000 members.
“The sole purpose of this group is to provide urgent help to those people who are in need due to this coronavirus pandemic,” Bastola said.
Merely 12 hours after the Facebook page’s launch, the Nepalese community received devastating news: A Nepalese man, Anil Subba, died of the coronavirus at Elmhurst Hospital. Subba was an Uber driver, and is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter, according to an online fundraiser.
The “Urgent Nepali Aid” Facebook community reached out to the victim’s family to see if they needed help, and a volunteer from the group later picked up medicine and dropped it off at the family’s door, according to Bastola.
New Yorker City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that more than half of New Yorkers will likely be infected by the virus in next few months. The city is also home to about 14,000 Nepalese, many of whom live in Queens, one of the reasons the Facebook group is specifically focusing on the borough.
Bastola said said the group’s volunteers are wearing protective masks while traveling and taking other precautions.
“We only accept volunteers who have their own private vehicles,” he added.
The group has been getting at least 100 calls daily.
“We are really overwhelmed with these calls these days,” said Ramhari Adhikari, 30, one of the volunteers.