Techies reach out to those affected by flood and landslips

How Technopark mobilised support for north Kerala, which faced the fury of the deluge

August 22, 2019 05:30 pm | Updated 05:30 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

 Residents of a tribal settlement wait as relief materials are unloaded by Prathidhwani volunteers

Residents of a tribal settlement wait as relief materials are unloaded by Prathidhwani volunteers

Nishanth S hasn’t yet got over the heart-warming moments he witnessed at a tribal settlement in Wayanad when relief kits were distributed to families affected by flood and landslips.

Nishanth, an employee of AdroitMinds Software Labs, had travelled to Mananthavady along with Mukesh Nair of Nissan Digital and Dabison KR of Cycloides Technologies, with relief materials collected by Natana, a cultural forum of Technopark that comes under G-Tech (Group of Technology Companies).

Volunteers of Natana with residents of Ayyappamoola tribal settlement in Thirunelli panchayat in Wayanad

Volunteers of Natana with residents of Ayyappamoola tribal settlement in Thirunelli panchayat in Wayanad

When north Kerala was battered by rains, floods and landslips, the techie community not only collected relief supplies but also travelled to these places to hand over the supplies to those rendered homeless by the calamity. Prathidhwani, a socio-cultural organisation of IT employees, and Natana opened collection points on the campus and transported them to the affected districts.

“We didn’t think twice about volunteering to travel with the goods. All we wanted to do was be with the people caught in the mishap,” says Dabison. The list of tribal settlements that needed aid was provided by Kerala Mahila Samakhya Society. “Our plan was to halt only for a day. But the situation was grave because they had not received any help till then and what we had with us was not enough. That’s when we decided to stay back and arrange for more loads,” says Nishanth. The kits distributed by them contained 26 items, including provisions and dress material. “Among the settlements we covered, we could go to only a couple of them. It was impossible to take the supplies on foot to other places and so the people gathered at a common point to take home what we had brought with us,” elaborates Dabison.

Difficult terrain

Recalling the journey while driving his Bolero, Mukesh adds that it was a daunting task to navigate through the terrain. “In places such as Thirunelli and Mangalassery, roads were washed away. Part of an entire hill had collapsed in one place and it was extremely difficult to manoeuvre the vehicle through the slush and mud,” says Mukesh.

A visit to Bavali on the Kerala-Karnataka border was quite disturbing for the trio. Houses were marooned when the Kabani river overflowed and the residents there were completely helpless. “They didn’t even have pure drinking water. They were forced to drink the muddy water after boiling it,” Nishanth and Dabison remember.

 Volunteers of Prathidhwani distributing relief materials in Wayanad

Volunteers of Prathidhwani distributing relief materials in Wayanad

The Prathidhwani team sent 12 truck loads of supplies mainly to Nilambur, Kavalappara, Chaliyar and Chungathara in Malappuram district and Mananthavady and Kalpetta in Wayanad. “Help came from all companies in cash and kind. A Prathidhwani volunteer travelled with each vehicle since we wanted to ensure that the supplies reached the specified location,” says Vineeth Chandran, president of Prathidhwani.

Vipin KV, who led the Prathidhwani team, adds that it is daily wage labourers who have been worst hit by the situation. “While those rendered homeless in the flood and landslips had taken refuge in camps where they got food, clothing and other supplies for the time being, that was not the case with the labourers. Their houses were intact but they had lost their livelihood. They had run out of provisions and essential commodities.”

UST Global had sent relief materials from its campuses in the capital city and Kochi to the tribal colonies in Wayanad. The employees travelled to the affected areas and kits were distributed in the colonies of Sugandhagiri, Mudavankara and Mathalampatta. Infosys also contributed in kind to collection centres in the city.

Collection centre of UST Global

Collection centre of UST Global

As for the collection centres on the campus, although there was a lull initially, it gathered momentum later. “Many were reluctant because they felt that the supplies might not reach the deserving. That’s why our volunteers accompanied the vehicles. And once they started posting photos and live videos of the distribution, the companies were convinced that there were no leaks in between. Since one of our member companies support the State government’s supply-chain management portal for flood relief, we got constant updates about the shortage or demand of relief materials,” says Vishnu V Nair, CEO, G-Tech. He adds that at least 200 companies under G-Tech contributed towards the cause.

In addition to food, grocery and cleaning materials, Natana team also transported cattle feed. “Employees turned up in large numbers at Bhavani Atrium where we had the collection centre. Although we had planned it as a three-day initiative, the response was so huge that it ran for a week. Volunteers worked in two-hour shifts between 9 am and 4 pm. After that all were welcome to come and help with packing, sorting and loading things and that went on till midnight. On the first day, Confederation of Indian Industry arranged a truck for transporting goods. After that the items were taken in jeeps,” says Divas Sadasivan, secretary of Natana.

Meanwhile, the employees point out that rebuilding the lives of those hit by the natural disaster would not be an easy task. “The enormity of the tragedy is so huge that what we have done is insignificant. Farm lands have been lost and with it their means of livelihood. However, we are happy that we could do our bit to help,” says Mukesh.

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