How Adelaide’s Indian community came together for two bereaved children

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“I was deeply shaken when I put myself in the shoes of this young family – what if it happened to us,” said Dr Sridhar Nannapaneni. indian link, describing a tragedy that has consumed Adelaide’s Indian community in recent weeks. The children of Adelaide Bhavagna and Palvith, aged 9 and 6, who recently lost their parents in a road accident in India, have returned home to the care of family friends.

Adelaide’s Telugu community, of which her parents Hemambaradhar “Hems” Peddagamalla and Rama Batthula were beloved members, came by the dozens to greet the children at the airport.

The children were escorted by Samuel and Miriam Kaladari, close family friends who traveled to India to bring them back to Adelaide.

There has been an outpouring of support for the children since the tragedy took place.

“It became clear that, just like me, others had had the same thought about their own family,” Dr Nannapaneni (Neni) revealed. “Maybe that was one of the motivators to band together for the sake of Bhavagna and Palvith.”

In the space of three weeks, $250,000 has been raised by the Telegu Association of South Australia (TASA) for the welfare of children, as part of an ongoing GoFundMe campaign place by another family friend Shivaji Pathuri.

Source: ABC News/Ethan Rix

The tragic accident

At the end of April, the family had traveled to India after the recent loss of their grandfather. On the way to the airport, their taxi crashed into a wall near Suryapet, Telangana, killing both parents.

The children spent the next few weeks receiving medical attention and had no idea what had happened.

“On the advice of the authorities, a member of the community, Dr. Sudheer Talari, told them the news only a few days ago, before they left Telangana. Until then they thought their parents were in a hospital in Australia,” Dr Neni said. “He revealed to me how emotionally draining it was. As doctors we are used to delivering bad news, but this one was on a whole different scale, it was extremely difficult,” Sudheer said. .

The funds raised were used to cover medical expenses, funeral expenses, travel and repayment of the family’s mortgage. (Hems left no will and only had a small amount of Super and Default insurance).

But more importantly, with the children being English-speaking with only brief visits to India over the years and aging grandparents in Telangana who would struggle to care for them, the community rallied together to find a way to bring back Bhavagna and Palvith in Flagstaff. Hill, Adelaide.

“It was important for them to go back to their usual life, to their school, to their friends, to the people here that they grew up with,” explained Dr Neni.

Despite fears of a long legal battle ahead, their return has been expedited by the Australian High Commission, with the help of Indian authorities and pleas from South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas.

The High Commission has been proactive in their support, Dr Neni described, sending a representative to Vijaywada Hospital and monitoring the situation closely. Dr. Talari was constantly liaising between them and the grandparents.

He added: “We are really grateful to everyone for helping out with this. The community has come together so strongly to help, from financial and logistical support to offering their homes to the children.

In the short term, the children will be in the care of the Kaladaris, who themselves have three children. “The children’s grandparents in India have accepted the current arrangement,” Dr Neni confirmed.

The next steps

Care for the children is paramount at the moment, as they are still in wheelchairs with broken legs and pelvises, and face 4-8 weeks of intense physiotherapy.

Social psychological support is also a concern. “Palvith is better, but Bhavagna is emotional – somewhat closed off at the moment and not speaking out. She is grieving in her own way and is definitely dealing with it all,” Dr Neni reported.

boy holding teddy bear
Source: ABC News/ Ethan Rix

“We aim for the children’s lives to be as normal as they used to be – which of course never will be, but at least we can get them into a routine resembling their previous routine as quickly as possible. The important word here, really, is “routine”.

In the meantime, there are plenty of tasks on the list – liaising with the Prime Minister’s office, immigration authorities, child protective services (where, coincidentally, Rama worked), l school children and their friends, while keeping grandparents in India in the loop.

“It is also important to determine how to keep grandparents in regular contact with children. We try to get them to visit us, so we check their passports, visas, etc. It might be difficult as they are over 80 years old. Another possibility is to organize regular trips to India for the children so that they can be in contact with their families – this will all take a little thought and planning.

Of course, this was a collective decision by TASA, with Sam Kaladari, Shivaji Pathuri, Dr Sudheer Talari and Dr Sridhar Neni being the most proactive.

What challenges do they anticipate?

“We need to sit down together and create a trust to protect the funds that the community raises as well as what has been accumulated by Hems and Rama. How do we structure the finances so that the children are well provided for? Do we pay off the mortgage and rent the property? »

There could also be challenges arising from child-rearing practices that might be different from family to family.

But the emphasis right now is on today’s concerns.

“We are thinking about how to maintain their regular activities – dance lessons, pre-uni, Telugu language school; who pays for these activities, and who conducts them or who shares the workload with Sam and Miriam.

The children’s school, St Bernadette’s, joined us with offers of help, with early suggestions that they would consider scrapping the fee.

Another important activity in the close-knit Telugu community was talking to children.

“We all had conversations with our children about how to deal with Bhavagna and Palvith. Be as normal as possible, we tell them. Don’t do anything extreme or difficult. Be sensitive and don’t raise sensitive issues. Try to keep it as you did before.

They also had conversations with other adults about important family issues.

A significant consequence has been an increase in the number of people whose wills have been sorted. “Our community generally lags behind in this activity,” Dr. Neni lamented. “I myself have reviewed my own affairs in recent days – my will was drawn up before the birth of my children!”

In fact, the day after this tragedy, the local Indian Professionals association in Australia took up this issue and organized a seminar on the importance of estate planning. (The association’s Senthil Chidambaranathan revealed that a capacity hearing heard an expert talk about establishing a legally valid will, setting up a power of attorney and clarifying advance medical directives).

Ironically enough, Dr. Neni recalled a similar TASA event several months ago. Hems had attended and had been the most prolific questioner.

Show your support for TASA

They say it takes an entire village to raise a child. This may well be true in the case of Bhavagna and Palvith, in fact more so than most children, as the community comes together for them.

As for the “village” itself, TASA, their commitment has been exemplary. Their selfless efforts here, proactive and practically reasoned, may well become a case study for other communities to show solidarity in the face of life-changing circumstances.

Help TASA care for Bhavagna and Palvith by donating here:

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