Published on 31 May 2021

Extending a helping hand overseas

The Singapore Universities Mission Oxygen (SUMO) drive initiated by EEE alumnus Mr Rahul Singh is a crowdfunding campaign to source oxygen concentrators for India from overseas suppliers. Rahul shares what inspired him and the challenges his team faced.

Rahul (3rd from left) and members of his SUMO teamRahul (3rd from left) and members of his SUMO team.

As India fights a mammoth COVID-19 crisis with medical oxygen in short supply, an alumni group from Singapore's universities has launched a global crowdfunding campaign to source oxygen concentrators for India from overseas suppliers.

Initiated by Mr Rahul Singh, an alumnus from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE)’s Class of 2010, the Singapore Universities Mission Oxygen (SUMO) drive has raised US$150,000 for 180 oxygen concentrators.

“This is truly a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,” he said. “As someone who has spent half his life in India and half in Singapore, I witnessed many distressed calls among friends and colleagues who were in dire need of oxygen and other medical supplies. There was a general feeling of helplessness among most of us especially those watching from overseas.”

This prompted Rahul to act. In just 12 hours, he assembled a globally diverse team of alumni spread across the Philippines, India, and Singapore, to manage an end-to-end aid process from procurement to logistics to last mile deployment in Indian towns and villages.

Rahul and his team faced a huge challenge in procuring medical equipment due to the extremely high global demand. “We had a war room like situation dynamically managing global supplies and fast-tracking payments while having the constant anxiety of spending more than the donations received,” he shared.

With donations streaming in and oxygen concentrators being purchased, shipping the items to India was another challenge as there were very limited direct flights to India. “We had to fish for capacity across various logistics companies. Upon reaching India, expediting custom clearance required us to engage alumni who were working in the relevant government organisations,” he added.

Beneficiaries in India with the donated oxygen concentrators 

Beneficiaries in India with the donated oxygen concentrators.

 

The oxygen concentrators will be given to two organisations, Community Empowerment Lab (CEL) and Mission Mercy, who are working on the ground to help COVID-19 patients gain access to medical oxygen.

CEL’s co-founder, School of Computer Science and Engineering alumna Ms Aarti Kumar (Class of 2000), is grateful to the alumni group for initiating the SUMO campaign. She said: “I am overwhelmed by the support and am proud to be a member of this amazing alumni community that put together its collective experience, skills and networks to successfully launch and conduct such an impactful initiative,” she said.

She added that through the efforts of SUMO, she has experienced the profound difference that people can make to the lives of others when those who can, come together to support communities in need.