"We started the initiative early this week after the Indian diplomatic missions approached us to help thousands of Indian students stranded in college towns across the US. I put out the appeal through our social media groups with fellow hoteliers and already have members of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) from across the US pledging over 2000+ rooms for this initiative. And the numbers are going up. The students are in trouble and have no place to go and as members of the Indian community we all feel it’s our responsibility to help,” says Kalpesh Joshi, a Chicago based hotelier and regional director of AAHOA, upper Midwest region.
Initially, the AAHOA members had decided to offer the rooms at a minimum cost requirement with their own overhead expenses in mind. “But most of us have now decided to offer them free of cost and help the larger Indian community in whatever way we can,” added Joshi who owns two hotel properties and will be providing accommodation to Indian students.
He added that he and other hoteliers in the region were reaching out to the students through the Indian consul general in Chicago Mr Sudhakar Dalela.
In San Francisco, Kamlesh Patel, a second generation hotelier and AAHOA regional director for north Pacific region, too is offering rooms to students. “This state of California has a large population of Indian students and as the campuses are shutting down completely and jobs drying up, many of them will face financial hardships and may not be able to pay rents. There is going to be a big demand for rooms in the next few days,” says Patel. He adds that as the son of immigrant parents who came to the US from Surat with almost nothing and built up their lives and business in America, it was his duty to help members of the Indian community in tough times.