Oct 06

Where Disaster Struck
Where Disaster Struck.
The Map shows the Nepal border above which Kosi breached and changed course bringing disaster in its path as it flooded Supol and Madhepura regions.

Taking up the responsibility of providing for their daily sustenance of flood victims, the Sadhu Vaswani Mission continues to bring relief through the concept of a “Free Kitchen”.

The first camp by the Mission was in Amrapur. Then on 5th September, 2 more camps were set up in Amrapur and in Madhepura – each of these camps making an attempt to reduce the misery of about 2000 people by providing free food which was indeed the top priority.

On 9th September, the volunteers divided themselves into 2 teams: one team moved into the interiors of Madheli, establishing a storage center at an abandoned school and the rest at a petrol pump in Madhepura. These two places served as the nodal centers for the Mission relief operations where more than 1500 people were fed daily also. All the supplies arrived at these nodal centers for onward distribution to the camps, many of them by boat.

By September 13th, 3 new camps were launched at Madheli, Murkahi and Karmamia catering to approx 1250, 600, and 650 people respectively.

Thereafter new camps were launched within a matter of 3 days three camps in Parsa, Jeetpur and Bhajanpatti – each of them catering to an average of 600 people daily. The one in Pama village catered to 1200 people each day and is located about 15 kms away from the main city of Madhepura. Other relief camps set up by the volunteers were at Bali Tolla in Shankarpur area, a refugee camp with 93 families (about 370 people) along the railway tracks in Madhepura, Pama tolla /Jirwah Naher (3200 people), Bhajan Patti (sudden increase of 1200 people as more refugees rolled in) and Shankarpur area (3900 people).

By September 20th, the Mission was able to send another team of 6 volunteers (five management students of the Indian Institute of E Business Management (IIEBM), Pune headed by Colonel R. K. Pawah). With the increased number of volunteers, the Mission was able to expand its operations all along the Murli Gang branch canal as well as in Madhepura. They further extended their operations into the interior villages on both flanks of the canal as well as the Phulehra River. By 21st September, the Mission was serving the following Panchayats Madheli Jeerba, Sunbarsa, Raibhir, Behrari, Parsa, Rampur Ilahi, Mauva Jharkha, and Machah (Triveni Ganj, Supol district). The maximum number of people fed was on 25th September when the Mission was able to cater to 17,000 people. The maximum numbers served by the Mission just from 21st to 30th September peaked from 10,000 17,000 in as many as 27 camps.

No, these were not hypothetical figures, but numbers as a result of proper monitoring of the camps. The team leader would survey each camp every morning and then the camps used to report at every evening on the numbers and amount of consumption and the balance of the rations remaining. Based on the consumption, the appropriate supplies were released by the nodal center for the next day. The village panchayat heads even remarked that Sadhu Vaswani Mission was a unique organization ensuring that the supplies were reaching its people and even a paisa worth of materials was not being wasted.

The number of volunteers also varied from a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 18. The drill indeed difficult for them getting by with no electricity and no basic comforts of a home, but they did it nevertheless. The routine involved getting up at 6:00 AM, taking a breakfast at the nodal center, and then move out by 7:00 AM with the required supplies by boat to the designated camps. The teams would return in the late evening and ready the schedule for the next day. Upon returning from serving a period of 12 days, Sunit Kumar, a management student with IIEBM, voiced it best for all the management students and all the volunteers who served there, “We would have missed something if we had not been there. It was the best satisfying days of our lives.”

From just feeding through the free kitchens, the Mission started providing basic items for the victims to sustain themselves. Costing about Rs 300 (USD $7) each, these rations contained about 14 items of basic needs such as sugar, tea, milk powder, cooking oil, daals, soap, toothpaste etc. that will last a person about 10-15 days. At the last update, the Mission had finished providing rations for about 500 people. Many of the other items given were frocks, baba-suits, towels and umbrellas.

The three phases following such a disaster are rescue, relief and then rehabilitation. The army having provided the rescue efforts, the relief operations done by organizations like Sadhu Vaswani Mission, the affected region now faces the most difficult phase Rehabilitation. It is estimated that the rehab work would itself take a few months at the very least. Indeed, they will never get back to their same life again. The next 2 crops are surely gone forever for the waters have yet to recede.

As the batch of volunteers returned, a teacher of the village Jirwa, presented a nice poetic letter of gratitude to the Mission that came right from the hearts of the people there. It said, “Like saviours, the Mission came to us, quenching the fire in our stomachs. You were the captain that showed us the way out. My salutes to the Mission! Please do not forget us upon your return.”

We do not intend to forget them anytime soon. Sweet was the name of the Lord too that they tasted as they joined in with the volunteers chanting ‘Dada Shyam’ at the servings. The villagers showed keen interest in the satsangs of Sadhu Vaswani Mission and propose to start a satsang there, wanting to continue the peaceful chimes that the volunteers brought to their joyless hearts.

Bihar Flood Relief
Twisted Metal The wrath of nature was evident everywhere.

Bihar Flood Relief
A river runs through the village
-Changing course, the Kosi river now flows through the heart of villages.

Bihar Flood Relief
Building Bridges.

Bihar Flood Relief
Carrying supplies by boat daily.

Bihar Flood Relief
Children fed first always at the camps.

Bihar Flood Relief
Chanting ‘Dada Shyam’.

Bihar Flood Relief
Bags of Blessings.

Bihar Flood Relief
Volunteers – being one amongst them all.

Bihar Flood Relief
‘Krishna’ takes ‘Gopis’ to the shore.

Bihar Flood Relief
The Calm after the Storm.

Bihar Flood Relief
The team of management students upon their return
with Col R.K. Pawah and Director Mr. Jai Singh of IIeBM

Bihar Flood Relief
May our names be forgotten.

Dada J.P. Vaswani
To Thy Glory, Dear Dada.

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