The Kerala disaster and its many images flash by. Some scary, some that make your heart wonder at the largeness of human spirit. I came across many appeals for help but none that struck me more than the one by my student at the University of Hyderabad Sneha who posted on Facebook the good work that the students at the University of Hyderabad were doing in collecting material and donations for the cause. I contacted her, thinking that I could take stuff and go to the University which is always a good place for me to visit. However Sneha got busy and never got back. But what she had done was light the fire. I had diligently pulled out a lot of my stuff for the cause - and voila, Shobhs and Anjali got infected by the spirit until it made a quarter of our car's space. Now we had stuff to donate but did not know where to go with it.
Meanwhile Shobha found out that Goonj was collecting stuff at the Nagarjuna Nagar, Community Hall. So we hauled our stuff - clothes, blankets, jackets, boots, vessels and even my prized cricket sweater that the HCA had given us in recognition of being part of the winning team or something like that. We went down to Nagarjuna Nagar and gave the material to the manager at the community hall. When we went back later to give something we had forgotten, the stuff was neatly packed already and marked. Goonj does a great job of sorting, cleaning and repacking them.
From where it began its journey in Delhi, providing warm clothing to people who suffer and die from cold, a start from a chilling story that I read in a Rashmi Bansal book, Goonj has turned into a huge movement that collects urban waste, treats it and recycles it for use. It turns waste into useful stuff, invaluable to those who need it - a blanket to the one who is exposed to cold would not think twice about a used or unused one, nor do shoes to those who have no shoes. An article I wrote about visiting the Hyderabad centre of Goonj many years ago is right now the most read blog.
Hopefully some of the suffering that the people of Kerala went through will be alleviated through the efforts of all these people who have come forward, collected and helped those in need. Some visuals I saw on social media were unforgettable. Visuals of the fishermen who came with their boats and helped rescue locals and the locals gratitude to them as they left, of Sikhs setting up a langar, of a boy who went down on his knees to help a pregnant lady climb over him into the boat, an NDRF constable dashing across a bridge with a child just before it got submerged, two ladies helping their dog through the water, a boat full of rescued dogs, one of two ladies in waist deep water both holding one leg of their dog to help it across, a young girl from Tamil Nadu donating money she had raised for her heart surgery, the military winching people up and carrying people into helicopters etc are unforgettable.
Let's hope the God's own country comes back to normal soon. Well done Goonj.
|A WhatsApp forward - amazing grace|
|Another forward - Fishermen leaving with their boats after their job was done|
|Helping - Amazing spirit|