By Jan Carabeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As India struggles to contain its coronavirus crisis, many Indian Americans living in the Delaware Valley are struggling to watch from afar. Groups of Indian American volunteers are now channeling the desire to help into action here at home.

They’ve become a fixture at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in Hunting Park.

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Dozens of Indian American volunteers in the brightly colored vests doing their part to get Philadelphia vaccinated. And their motivation is printed right there on their backs: “Sewa,” the Sanskrit word for selfless service.

“This has been a very spiritual experience. I always wanted to give back to society,” HSS coordinator Sachin Dabade said. “It is our responsibility to our brothers and sisters of Philadelphia.”

For weeks now, volunteers like Ranjit Kamat have canvassed neighborhoods looking for people who need a coronavirus vaccine, and then helped get those people through the doors for their shots.

“I said this is the best way to utilize my vacation,” Sewa International volunteer Ranjit Kamat said.

“They’ve been helping with wheelchair escorts, they’ve been helping with wellness questions. So they’ve been doing a variety of different things,” FEMA Volunteer Coordinator Justice Colbert said.

These volunteers have not only played a vital role at Esperanza but also at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. More than 350 volunteers have logged 2,400 hours since the site opened in March.

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The massive effort is organized by non-profits Sewa International and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, or HSS.

And the folks at HSS have done much more than volunteer their time at the FEMA-run clinics. They’ve also distributed close to $60,000 in PPE and food during the pandemic throughout the Delaware Valley.

“It’s the responsibility of every human being to help our fellow human beings,” Dabade said.

And the hope is that belief now spreads. Especially as India’s COVID crisis continues to escalate.

“Our home country is in deep trouble. We are doing the same thing. We are contributing whatever little we have,” HSS Pennsylvania East President Mukund Kute said.

Through Sewa International, donations from the Philadelphia region are now being used to buy much-needed oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies in India. And these volunteers say their concern for extended family overseas is now re-focusing their action here at home.

“Stress is something that is going to put you backward. When something like this happens, start working on what you can do,” Kamat said. “Whatever selfless service that may be.”

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If you’d like to support HSS or Sewa’s missions, visit and