The experience of volunteering in Kerala Floods was both emotional and overwhelming at the same time. It did come with a lot of leanings for me as a person who was new to the experience of flood relief. Sharing them below.
Note: I have shared my experience of volunteering during Kerala Flood Relief in the previous blog. Would suggest that as a pre-read to this one.
Stock Labelling and stock count
Few of the carton boxes we received for distribution had no mention of material inside and quantity. So we had to open and count every unit in it (counting is important for kit preparation). Hence, if the individuals/ groups who are sending material for relief work can mention the label and quantity, it would save good amount of time and effort on the field.
Culture appropriate clothing
There are some places which are quite particular about clothing due to various reasons. In this context, I would like to highlight that when we opened some of the carton boxes which had clothes, we saw that they were either party wear or were ghagras cholis. Now at this time, people were in need of basic clothing after floods which for a place like Kerala was ‘lungi’ and ‘nighty’ for most of the people. Hence, a quick check about the culture of the place where the material is being sent can help.
Mobilisation of local resources
The way Gram panchayat mobilised local recourses from rescue operations to relief work- it holds a lesson for us to learn. It made sure that it held meeting every alternate day with its ward members to have real time information; arranged training for the civil engineering students of the village so that they are equipped to check the condition of houses; and rolled out many other initiatives. Having worked with gram panchayat for over an week, I could see importance of working at ground level.
Flood Relief Process
While working on field for flood relief, things were emerging with time. But now when I see in hindsight, I could see a pattern. The process of volunteering somewhere looked like this: Preparation and Distribution of kits> Distribution of sanitation material> Cleaning of houses. Further to this, health awareness session for post flood diseases with children in schools, physical check by a team of expert volunteer for condition of houses etc.
The material had to be transported from one state to other, in this context from Karnataka to Kerala. Little did I know about the transport cost which was obviously a significant amount. But as my fellow volunteer had previous experience of Chennai Floods, he made sure we have cash in hand for transport cost. Also a friend who was already volunteering in Kerala suggested that put a banner of ‘Kerala Floods 2018: Relief Material’ on your vehicle which will help in saving some tax.
Nature is superior
Last but not the least, its high time we understand that humans can’t go beyond nature. That humans and nature needs to share a symbiotic relationship. That they need to co-exist and not one at the cost of other. Time and again universe has given us this signal and its high time that we realise this.