Monday, December 14, 2015
We had a review meeting of the volunteers of BhavAngels on Sunday 13 Dec. That gives us an opportunity to recollect the progress so far. It was on 4th/5th Dec that we decided to move on the next phase of rehabilitation from immediate relief and distribution of food. By then major organizations like Ramakrishna Math, Hotels, Cultural organizations, cine artists group had all swung into action and were providing food, blankets, sanitary napkins, etc. As mentioned earlier, we decided to concentrate on targeted beneficiaries. We talked to many who had been recommended by volunteers, neighbors and friends. They gave us the particulars of their families, what they had lost their address and so on. We visited a few localities to ascertain for ourselves. One of our volunteers who went to Kotturpuram found that lot of help had already reached there. Based on our data, a team went about procuring the stuff. We had a made a list comprising of essentials for any family such as utensils, mats, blankets, pillows, mosquito-nets, tooth brushes, soaps, phenoyl, brooms, cleaning brush, and some rice, dal, tamarind, masala powder, oil etc. Another one was configurable like notebooks, pampers, sanitary napkins, cots, school bags, lunch boxes, etc. depending on whether there were small children, girl children, elderly couple etc. The distribution phase started off on Saturday where the targeted beneficiaries were called home, given an orientation and all the items handed over to them.
Other views were expressed in the meeting and some good suggestions too. One was that we should actually check out on the field whether they were really devastated or not. By and large this due diligence is being done. What intrigued me was an utter disbelief of one of the attendees that an old woman can make a living on Rs 1500/-. This was in reaction to Shashwathi who had reported that a maid working at a neighbor’s house for two decades earned Rs,1500 per month. It takes an effort on our part to grasp the level of poverty at which many people live and survive. Sometime back it was reported that 35% of world population live on less than $1 a day. If we assume that to be Rs 50, then the monthly income is Rs 1500/-. Going by the packet of provisions that we have given, Rice, dal, oil, tamarind and masala powder costing Rs 300/- , I am told that a family to whom we give our packet of food items can survive for 10 days. Rs.1000/- would ensure a full stomach for a person for a month. Is that an acceptable level of quality of life is a moot question.
– Dr. L.N.Rajaram