medical beds

A shipping container housing some of the medical beds that Aparna Nutakki is fundraising to send to India. 

Aparna Nutakki was born in Hyderabad, a city in the south Indian state Telangana, and moved to Hyde Park when she was eight. Here, she went through local schools, attending Shoesmith Elementary, Kenwood Academy, and the University of Chicago, from which she graduated in 2014. 

She’s now in med school at Rush University, and looking to assist India as it endures a devastating wave of COVID-19. Last week, Nutakki launched a fundraiser to help the relief organization Project C.U.R.E. send medical beds to her hometown of Hyderabad; so far, she’s raised over $10,000. 

“Initially, we were thinking of raising $35,000 — that was supplies plus cargo,” said Nutakki, who worked with the group for a year and a half in India after graduating from the U. of C. “(Project C.U.R.E.) was like, honestly, if we can raise $15,000 we might be able to get donated cargo space. So we’re trying to get that last five.” 

The beds will go to NTR Trust, an Indian nonprofit. Nutakki described their work during COVID as “multifold,” ensuring that people who don’t need to come to the hospital still have food and supplies, and that others can get treatments at their COVID centers. 

Nutakki said that, since the Indian government has eased customs restrictions on medication and supplies until the end of July, it’s important to try to ship the supplies before it becomes more difficult to ship the goods again. 

The weekly average of daily recorded cases in India is around 283,000, according to the New York Times, though that figure is almost surely a significant underestimate. The death toll on May 20 was 4,200 people. And some COVID survivors have contracted “black fungus,” a rare, highly fatal infection caused by exposure to mold. 

“For days now, I have been agonizing over how best to help India from oceans away, often sharing with my parents that half our thoughts and hearts are always with our family and friends back home,” wrote Nutakki in her fundraising appeal. 

“I recognize and understand that many of you are probably experiencing donor fatigue along with the COVID fatigue that permeates all our lives these days. But as we have come to learn in recent days, your generosity and kindness can be the difference between life and death.” 

Donate to Nutakki’s fundraiser at 


Christian Belanger graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017. He has previously written for South Side Weekly, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Reader.

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