Pharmacy owner in Durham Region raising money for COVID-19 crisis in India

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A local pharmacy is extending a helping hand across the globe, raising money to help those impacted by India’s latest COVID-19 wave.

The overwhelming impact of the virus in India is being felt around the world. Something that Hank Parsaniya, owner of Trail Capital I.D.A. pharmacy in Uxbridge, couldn’t stand by and watch.

“I found out quite a few people I know had died,” says Parsaniya. “It was only after frustration and devastation and sadness that I had, I knew I had to do something.”

The pharmacy owner is from the small village of Zinzari, with less than 5,000 people in it. The 34-year old says after living there for 25 years, he personally knows several people who have lost their lives to the virus.

“Someone I used to buy my shoes from, he was in his early 40s, he passed away from COVID,” he says. Parsaniya listed off a number of people who he knew who died at a young age due to COVID-19. “My cousin’s sister-in-law who was like 23, she passed away from COVID,” he says. “The guy who was one year behind me in school, he was 33 — he passed away from COVID.”

After sitting back and realizing the devastation, he started a fundraiser through his pharmacy’s Facebook page.

“I just put it there, and the first time I put it on my Facebook. It was $1,000 in my checking account. I was amazed, it was fantastic,” says Parsaniya.

And the help is desperately needed. The country has been experiencing the world’s highest number of daily cases — and more than 4,000 deaths have been reported per day over the past week.

Parsaniya’s village of Zinzari is located in the Gujarat province, an area that has seen more than 700,000 cases. To put that into perspective, all of Canada has seen 1.35 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

The reality for Parsaniya is that more people he knows are falling victim to the virus. “Right now, I have to ask anyone I speak to, ‘hey, who did not get COVID,’ not ‘who got COVID,’ unfortunately.”

The campaign has raised more than $6,000 for the cause. Money that will go directly to someone in need. Parsaniya has a number of family members in health care.

“Everything that you donate, it goes 100 per cent to India. There is nothing lost in the transaction,” he says.

The pharmacist has already used part of the money to help with things like tuition for one family, after a young woman taking medical school had both her parents pass away. The cash also went to purchasing an oxygen concentrator for a local health centre.

He’s amazed Uxbridge residents have given so generously.

“They decided to help. So seriously, thank you Uxbridge,” he says. “It has changed many lives of those who are in desperate need.”

Nancy Melcher, a local journalist, helped get the word out about the fundraiser. She says with COVID-19 affecting people differently, having a cause like this allows residents to get involved and help out.

“We Uxbridge residents definitely have embraced this. I think people are feeling powerless. There’s nothing we can do to stop the virus, other than follow medical guidelines.”

Uxbridge’s mayor is happy his residents are taking part.

“All of our residents want to do what it takes to make the world and especially the community a better place.”

Opening their wallets — and their hearts — to those in need.

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