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Amanda sent a near-stranger in India $200. What he did with it brought her to tears

In May 2020, Amanda Reid had a realization that would take her on an unexpected emotional journey.

She was on the phone seeking help for her sleep problems from a spiritual teacher she met in India seven years prior.

While she was walking around in the sunshine close to her coastal Sydney home in Maroubra, he was in a hard lockdown in Pune, a sprawling city around 150km southeast of Mumbai.

“He was sitting in his apartment with no food, with police patrolling the streets outside – and he was trying to help me sleep on the other side of the world. I got a real sense of who he was,” Amanda told SBS News.

Before that call, Amanda hadn’t spoken to Vikash Gaurav since she met him in Pune in 2013.


Vikash, a social worker, and therapist, helped Amanda practice her mantras and meditation.

“He realized I was searching for something spiritual and not finding it,” Amanda said. “From the goodness of his heart, he was trying to assist me, and I could feel that there was nothing beyond that.”

Amanda met Vikash Gaurav in Pune on a trip to India in 2013.


Then after COVID-19 hit Australia last year, Amanda became absorbed in her spiritual practice again and reached back out to Vikash.

“I sent him a text. He didn’t remember me but said, ‘you’ve come to me for a reason, so let’s get into it.”

Amanda then decided she wanted to help Vikash and the other Indians in lockdown somehow.

“Knowing how tough the pandemic had made things in India, I asked him if he could suggest a charity for my friends and me to donate to,” she said.

His reply was short: “Just send the money to me, and I’ll make sure it’s used effectively”.

It triggered an inward journey for Amanda – could she trust a near-stranger with her money?

Unable to work and rely on government support while recovering from her complex health issues, she had little money.

“The reality was it had been six and a half years of no contact, and then someone who was clearly in dire financial straits themselves, from what I could gather, was saying, ‘Send money to me’. It was this real inward journey of ‘do I trust him or not?'”

Amanda took what felt like a “leap of faith” and cobbled together $200 to send.

“I had to trust it would go where it needed to go,” she said.

‘I started crying.’

Vikash used Amanda’s money to distribute food and essentials to those in his community unable to work or claim financial support and pay his neighbors’ electricity bills so they could stay home.

It was no easy feat.

Established charities on the ground in Pune had been hampered by not being able to risk the health of their volunteers.

Vikash had little money himself, and his scooter had broken down. Plus, he had to garner police support to go into prohibited areas.

To prove what he was doing, he sent Amanda videos and photos with messages of thanks from those her money had helped.

The footage brought her to tears.

Vikash Gaurav (second from left) has been donating food parcels with money sent by Amanda.


“I started crying when I saw them because all these people were ‘thank you, Amanda’. It had a big emotional impact on me,” she said.

“I don’t think I’m any more special than others here, and it’s not much money, but I guess that is the point – over there, a little went a long way.

“[Vikash’s] dedication and commitment spells hope to me – and that is worth nurturing.”

Vikash Gaurav (far right) distributing parcels of essentials to those in need in Pune, India.


In the months following, Amanda collected more money from family and organized fundraising events in Sydney. In August 2020, she sent another $600; in May 2021, when India was in the throes of a deadly new wave of COVID-19 and combatting a new virulent variant, she sent another $1,150. Vikash said he will always be grateful to Amanda and others in Australia who gave money to help.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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