Members of an Island-backed social enterprise are appealing for financial support for their CEO after he was left fighting for his life in hospital in India with a second bout of COVID-19 and a potentially deadly Cobra bite.
Former Island healthcare worker Ian Jones, who now runs Sabirian, a charity-backed social enterprise importing fairly traded crafts from India, has been in intensive care since he suffered the poisonous bite from an Indian Black King Cobra in the village where he is based.
Ian was, at the time, already battling a second bout of COVID-19, having survived an earlier attack in March, when the snake bite took matters to a whole new level of severity.
Now facing mounting medical bills and being unable to leave the country, the charity has set up a Go Fund Me page in the hope of raising some money to help meet the tens of thousands of pounds needed for his care, before he can return home.
Owned by Isle of Wight charity Community Action Isle of Wight, Sabirian provides opportunities for around 70 Indian craftspeople aged between 18-87, to help them trade their way out of poverty by providing training and help to import and sell their crafts and furniture in the UK in a sustainable and ethical way. On the Island, their shop in Newport high street also provides volunteering opportunities for people with additional barriers to employment to gain confidence and helps them on their journey to gain or return to work.
Ian suffered the potentially fatal bite whilst at his Jodphur base, where many of the local craftsmen and women that Sabirian support live and work. He had moved out of the city so that he could continue to provide support during the pandemic and, because of travel restrictions, has been unable to travel home to his family on the Island.
Seb Jones, Ian’s son said:
“Dad is a fighter, during his time out in India he had already suffered from Malaria and Dengue Fever even before COVID-19 and yet he had remained resolute in his determination to stay in the country and continue his work help the people that needed his support.
“He had not been able to travel home due to the pandemic and as a family we understood his desire to continue to support the many people who relied on him. We were naturally concerned about him though and then when we heard he had also suffered what is usually a fatal snake bite on top of all that he had been through, we honestly could not believe it.
“It really has been touch and go, he is stable at the moment although he has paralysis in his legs and blindness, both of which we hope is temporary, but it is clear he is going to need to remain in hospital out there for some time to come. We are extremely grateful to his colleagues there who have been brilliant and rallied around him in his time of need, as indeed he did for them.”
Mike Bulpitt, CEO of Community Action Isle of Wight said:
“Ian has put so much on the line to continue to support the people out in India that he works with, living in difficult conditions and being away from his own family and friends on the Island for most of the year. He is now facing a long road to recovery and we are appealing for any fundraising support people can give to help us meet his medical costs, until he can eventually be brought home. We hope that he will soon be able to get back to the work he loves and to supporting those that need him, but right now he needs all our help to get through this battle to survive.”
The Go Fund Me page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-ian-fight-deadly-cobra-bite-amp-covid19.