30000 meals + more | The Last Week at Kerala Flood Relief
Day 7: The food distribution was done with another 4000+ packets. Sadhu Vaswani Center Ahmedabad worked with the Indian Western Railways in arranging a special High Capacity Parcel Van to send relief materials to the flood victims. 23 tons of materials, including medicines, water bottles, bedsheets, napkins, blankets, mosquito repellents, and food items were collected and loaded. The extra bogey was attached to the Porbander Kochi Express train in Ahmedabad at 3AM and reached Ernakulam the next day and was received by the office of Ernakulam Dist Collector, Mohd. Y. Safirulla K (IAS) for distribution.
Day 8: It was one of the most important days of the Onam Festival. According to history, King Mahabali lost his land of Kerala to the Gods, yet received a boon to visit his homeland once a year. All the festivities during Onam are mainly preparations to welcome him. This year, it was a solemn time as many of the residents were themselves homeless and many others were without water and electricity in the affected areas. To keep their moral high and bring smiles, the team cheered them up with their warm smiles and added a sweet to the meal - a ladoo, along with their favourite sambhar rice with uperi (Kerala-style okra) & pickle.
Day 9: The volunteers had been working in sweltering heat with the humidity coming off the air rising from the drying soil. The muddy land, the broken trees, the mosquitos made it a rough terrain for the volunteers. Today, after finishing the distribution of food packets, they took some time out to celebrate Raksha Bandhan, known as Avani Avittam in South India.
Day 10 & 11: Dada’s samaritans continued to toil to provide relief and every day, the team kept going further into the interiors, where the recovery was still wanting. The team ended up serving 20 areas in Paravur – Neendoor, Pattanam, Pooyapilly, Parayakad, Kootukad, Chendamangalam, Kottayilkovilakam, Karimpadam, Pallanthuruthu, Thekkumpuram, Kumaramangalam, Munduruthi, Palathuruthu, CP Thuruthu, Kochuavara Thuruthu, Kozhi Thuruthu, Pattam, Tholathuruthu, Elanthikkara, & Puthenvelikkara.
Day 12: The well-known local MLA V.D. Satheesan was deeply moved by Sadhu Vaswani Mission’s efforts. He visited the camp and thanked them for coming all the way to help the Kerala residents. He expressed, in glowing terms, that the Mission has worked in an organised, outstanding manner, and was unique amongst others. And expressed his keen interest to visit the Pune Mission.
The Paravur area has partially recovered with water services restored and the home kitchens getting active again. Some businesses have opened up with people returning to work. Schools too had reopened. The team neared its end of the relief mission - closing out the food distribution drive with about 3000 meals prepared and distributed. In total, 30,000 food packets were served over the 12 days.
Day 13: Bidding Adieu! In the final phase, a parting gift was distributed to the most-affected ones in the Paravur area. The kit consisted of a T-shirt & a lungi for men, a gown for ladies, a bed sheet and a towel. The material was procured with help of Coimbatore Sadhu Vaswani Center and supporters. The goods arrived in the morning, and were unloaded by volunteers themselves, opened and kits were made. Then it was taken even on two-wheelers and on foot into the interiors where the truck could not go.
Day 14: August 31st – it was the day to return home! Yet, it was another opportunity to serve. The local MLA V.D. Satheesan guided the team to one of the most interior and badly affected area where a small distribution camp of approximate 138 affected families was organised. Satheesan came personally and briefed the crowd about the tremendous effort put in by Sadhu Vaswani Mission, especially the central kitchen setup.
With one hand the team waved goodbyes, and with the other hand they kept giving away apples – about 1200 pieces. Some people shared their sad stories, while others courageously smiled and with moist eyes, thanked the Mission for coming all the way from Pune. An ex-armyman said, “The Mission volunteers offered their services unequivocally. We were served with food items like biryani, rice etc. and even before leaving, they are distributing apples. Where the vehicles could not reach in the remote interiors, they carried food on their heads to reach the people. I can't express how troubled we were. I hope someday I too get a chance to come to their service.” In the afternoon, the team took to the other interior zones to distribute the remaining kits. “The experience was saddening and heart wrenching after witnessing in person the damage and losses to the residents of Paravur. They will take lot of time and help to come back to normal life,” they said. The flood waters had reached the roof-lines in most of the houses. The waters receded, but left behind massive layers of sediment and mud. Life-savings go into buying TVs, refrigerators, appliances and electronics and they were all damaged by the flood waters. The people had never experienced such kind of disaster before.
As Dada’s team returned to Pune at night, they felt grateful to the Lord and the Mission for giving them the precious opportunity to serve this cause.
Sadhu Vaswani Mission is deeply grateful to all the supporters and volunteers to make this relief operations possible!