Kerala Floods | Society

Chennai stands in support of Kerala

Asan Memorial Association

Stacked in one corner of the room are neatly packed cardboard boxes. The labels read: medicines; biscuits and bread; dry foods. Packaged water bottles arrive in a trail into the grey-walled room in Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School, Anderson road.

This collection point, organised by Asan Memorial Association, is bustling with activity on a Saturday afternoon. It brims with youngsters and others who have come together to help Kerala fight the battle against its worst torrential rains in 100 years. Volunteers — from students to working professionals and their family members — are segregating the items donated by Chennaiites, and packing them in labelled boxes.

“No, no, you can’t pack this bread packet, it is expiring tomorrow, no chance!” cries out a supervising volunteer. As of Sunday, the group had collected 2,000 kilograms of relief material. With the help of the coast guard, the materials have been airlifted to Cochin from where it would be distributed to different relief camps around Kerala. Collection will continue through the week.

This same location had been a relief camp during the Chennai floods in 2016. “They were there for us when we had a crisis, we intend to do the same,” says Shyamala Jayaprakash, General Secretary, Asan Memorial Association. Collection timings: 3.30 pm to 8 pm.

Bhoomika Trust

A group of people sit around a table in the conference room of Krea, an eKnowledge centre in Alwarpet. A sense of urgency hangs in the air. Each of them, immersed in their own work. One of them receives the call for help while two others try to trace it with the coordinates received. Others ensure every call is taken care of. Still others check that calls are not repeated. This a helpline centre set by Bhoomika Trust in collaboration with the rescue team deployed by the Government of Kerala.

    Krea has volunteers walking in everyday, ever since their social media post requesting for Malayalam-speaking volunteers, went viral. What started out as a room full of volunteers have now grown into three. An elderly malayalee couple walk in, asking what they could do.

    As they listen intently to what they are expected to do, their faces speak of a serious drive to do whatever is possible for their homeland. “Initially, we were verifying information and passing it on to the official authorities. Suddenly when the situation worsened, the official authorities wanted us to set up a helpline as soon as possible,” says Latha Subramaniam , member of the advisory board, Bhoomika Trust.

    The trust had immediately set up two helpline numbers as people reached out for medical emergencies and rescue. The first group of volunteers would take down their names and numbers in order to avoid keeping the line engaged. Team 2 , meanwhile, call these numbers to collect more information: are there senior citizens, pregnant ladies who require immediate attention?

    The third team passes the information to rescue teams and control rooms. When rescue teams can’t be reached, the call is escalated to authorities directly to see if NRDF needs to be involved. “The calls have been coming from pockets — every half an hour, the locations have been varying,” says Latha. Visit the Bhoomika Trust Facebook page for details.

    Koottukudumbam

    Samyuktha Menon is wading through calls from Kerala — of friends, relatives and others. For this young actress, who had come to Chennai to work on a film, the absence from her hometown was no deterrent. With the help of her crew, who she refers to as Koottukudumbam (extended family), she converted Octaves, a recording studio into a collection point .

    Chennai stands in support of Kerala

    Calls and messages started flowing in from all directions as soon as they started functioning — from different locations. So much so, that there was constant duplication of data online. Information regarding people who needed help was often circulated for days after they were rescued.

    This is when Samyuktha started collating rescue requests from social media. “Out of 4000 rescue requests we recieved from Chengannur, 2000 were repetitions. Two students from IIT offered to help by creating a crisp list of 1500 names, phone numbers and locations,” says Samyuktha. She intends to create rehabilitation kits which will help in the recuperation process. Call them at 9446960500.

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    Printable version | May 9, 2021 6:08:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/in-support-of-kerala/article24737801.ece

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