Everyone I know in India has been affected by this insidious virus, and I feel utterly helpless. I was on my way to Goa to support the dedicated team at my restaurant, Antares. They provided free meals to the elderly and COVID positive patients and their families in North Goa until a lockdown was imposed on May 9. Each day nutritious meals of dal, mixed vegetables, salad, and rice were home delivered to these vulnerable families. I am incredibly proud of my team and their generosity and resolve to help others in one of India's darkest hours. Hopefully, the lockdown will be lifted on May 31, and we will continue this much-needed service.
I love that Australia embraces diversity and encourages Australians to develop strong links with other countries. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of June 2020, 30% of Australians were born overseas. For those people like me who have professional and personal links to India, the impact of the pandemic is incredibly distressing. Not only are families separated, but the uncertainty of when a reunion is possible causes immense anxiety and a feeling of helplessness.
Many of our fellow Australians living in India are waiting to return home. Essential travel should include the very human necessity of reuniting families. In 2020, nearly every single country from around the world was represented in Australia's population.
As I contemplate these uncertain times, I encourage all Australians to get vaccinated so we can reduce the threat of community transmission on our shores. My 83-year-old grandmother was vaccinated without hesitation. She has five children, 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren (number 11 is due in July). COVID is not going to prevent her from seeing them.
Thank you Nan, because I cannot live without your warm hugs.