Saturday, December, 26, 2015
Its been a while since I have updated this blog. Had been busy distributing the kits and understanding what needs to be done next. As of now we have handed over 77 kits to 77 flood affected families who have been either personally vouchsafed by Bhavangels volunteers or donors or our good friend. In addition we have gone to the localities to ensure they had been indeed inundated. We have identified and committed another 18 families and distribution to them is underway. All this was made possible by the fantastic efforts of Bhavangels volunteers, particularly my neighbours, Ms. B.Lalitha, Usha and Geeta and Shashwathi my Lokalex colleague and others like Anu and Aaron, Ramya, Prof Chitra, Prashanth, Apurva and many others. Donors have also been overwhelming with their goodwill and concern and their ever-willingness to help. Some of experiences worth narrating are as follows.
Chinnathambi of Ambedkar Nagar, Adambakkam was introduced to us by neighbour B. Lalitha as someone who has been recommended by another friend as badly affected. When we met him, he said he is not seeking help only for himself but all his neighbours who have been devastated far more than himself ? This sounded good but also incredible. Lalitha and I decided to check it out for ourselves and immediately drove down for an inspection. During the drive we passed the Madras race Course and several posh houses and turned into a very busy upscale market area. It did not look to me to me that we were proceeding to a place where I would find deserving beneficiaries. Our last turn brought us to a halt with the road getting too narrow to proceed. Chinna Thambi guided us to park in a safe place and we were suddenly aware that we were in a place that had been devastated. It was pretty obvious that even without the floods this was no place for anyone to live. Dr. Ambedkar in his fine suit and shining shoes would have found it difficult to walk through this Dalit colony without holding his handkerchief to his nose. I was ashamed that I had come to this place to check out whether they deserved our attention. There were still people with mugs emptying the water out of their one room hovels. They gave me vacant stares and shooing of children from inside. Chinna thambi made sure we go through the entire set of houses leaving out no sordid details of every household, adding much to our misery. Many were cooking food out in the open. Chinna Thambi told me that he had heard of good Samaritans of Chennai who had helped many communities in Chennai but no one had come here so much as to give even biscuits. Three days later we were back with 37 kits worth more than Rs 1.75 lakhs, loaded in a truck. I was apprehensive that we were risking an explosive situation of limited hand outs and far more desperate people. But Chinna Thambi was a leader and his leadership came through with the commanding presence of his diminutive self. He got everyone involved in unloading the truck and taking the kits to a safe and empty house and he asked Lalitha to read out names from a list. As the names were read out one by one the woman (rarely men) came forward accepted silently gave a huge smile of gratitude with folded arms and walked off with their possessions of utensils, bedsheets, blankets, pillows, broom, soaps, dettol, toothbrushes and so many things. Somethings that they can call their own after so many days.
– Dr. L.N.Rajaram