A 32-year-old Russian woman who got stranded in the temple town of Tirupati four months ago amid the lockdown restrictions, has now received help from several people after a TV channel covered her story. She was also separated from her mother who got stuck in Uttar Pradesh, after she went there trying to get help from fellow Russians.
Ester, along with her 70-year-old mother Olivia, had landed in India on February 6 with a plan to visit all ISKCON temples across the country. They eventually wanted to settle down in India by offering physiotherapy services to people.
However, the COVID-19 induced lockdown left them stranded in the country with no job and little money in hand. After relaxation of lockdown norms, the duo reached Tirupati from West Bengal on June 17.
They wanted to visit the Tirumala temple but could not do so due to the decision of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) to not allow foreigners to have 'darshan' in view of the pandemic.
Olivia last month asked her daughter to stay back in Tirupati and left for Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. Since more Russians visit Vrindavan, she was hoping to get some help but she did not get any assistance due to the COVID-19 situation and got stuck there.
Separated from her mother and with no money in hand, Ester was facing severe hardships in Tirupati. She was not even able to communicate her problems to others because of language issues.
A guest house owner provided her with shelter. She broke down while narrating the hardships she and her mother faced over the last four months.
"This is the first time I am taking help from anybody. We wanted to make a living by providing physiotherapy services but have landed in this situation," said Ester.
Meanwhile, help is pouring in for Ester with public representatives and philanthropists coming forward to donate money.
Andhra Pradesh officials were gathering details about Ester and her mother to help them. Tirupati MLA B Karunakar Reddy sent Rs 10,000 to Ester and promised all help to unite her with her mother and later send them back to their country.
On the direction of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu's daughter Deepa Venkat, state BJP General Secretary Bhanu Prakash Reddy met Ester and assured her of all support. He said the Russian mother-daughter duo want to stay back in India.
Actor Sonu Sood, who has been helping many people in distress during COVID-19, sought details of the Russian woman when someone through a tweet drew his attention to the problems faced by Ester.