A pregnant was woman stuck in the USA without health insurance, another woman feared losing the visa status, a few had to attend emergencies back in India while some wanted to leave the US with the economy shattered and employment lost.
All these people hailing from various parts of India had different problems but their singular desire was to leave the USA and reach their motherland but their efforts went in vain with flights cancelled and Vande Bharat mission unable to reach them.
However, help came from an unexpected quarter – the US India Solidarity Mission (USISM) formed with the sole objective of evacuating such people through a chartered flight. The flight carrying 250 passengers landed at Hyderabad recently after picking them up from different cities of the USA. And the mission was the idea of Washington-based Telugu entrepreneur, Puli Ravi, who decided to take up the unthinkable during the pandemic.
“Biggest challenge was coordinating with three countries – USA, India and Qatar — and getting clearances from the embassies and international airports,” says Ravi Puli, who hails from a small village in Warangal district. He and his team of 30 people worked tirelessly over 21 days, interacting with passengers from across the USA.
In fact, a family was stuck in Mexico and they were first brought to USA and put on the plane. He also ensured with the help of authorities that passengers like pregnant women and senior citizens were given free upgrade to business class for a convenient journey.
Some of the passengers who landed in Hyderabad said it was a tough journey made easy by Mr. Ravi Puli and his team. An advocate-couple Raj and Surekha finally reached Hyderabad after their planned return in March had been cancelled with international flights grounded. Similar views were expressed by Neharika, a student from New York, and Jerry from Kerala, who returned with her family through the chartered flight.
“Such a task is difficult even during normal times as it involves navigating through legal and bureaucratic clearances in multiple countries across the oceans. But it was done with the support of Indian embassy and Qatar officials,”said Ravi, who was a member of the delegation led by Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held in Hyderabad.