Sri Sathya Sai Aarogya Vahini, West Bengal
Covid-19 And Amphan Cyclone Relief And Building Back
Commencement Of Phase Three Operations With Relief And Building Back Activities:
Cyclone Amphan is one of the worst disasters to hit West Bengal. Amphan made landfall in West Bengal on May 20, 2020, buffeting the region with strong winds and heavy rains.
West Bengal, the epicenter of the cyclone's landfall, saw the most widespread damage from Amphan. The storm was considered the strongest to hit the region in over a decade. At least 72 people died in West Bengal; most of the fatalities were due to electrocution or the collapse of homes.
The greatest inundations were experienced in the Sundarbans, where flooding extended 15 km inland. Embankments in the region were overtaken by the surge, leading to inundation of the islands in the Sundarbans. Bridges linking islands to the Indian mainland were swept away. The cyclone produced winds of 190 km/hour in West Bengal, damaging homes and uprooting trees and electric poles.
Commencing the third phase of Relief and Build Back work post the first two phases since March 2020, Sri Sathya Sai Aarogya Vahini reached the village of Joygram near Hasnabad in the Bashirhut Sub-Division of North 24 Parganas to witness the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan, amid COVID-19 conditions in Gangetic West Bengal.
Dasa, the distributary of River Ichhamati was in spate after the torrential rain brought by the cyclone. The rudimentary mud houses of the local people were no match for the fury of nature. The gushing waters from the river rushed onto the narrow village lanes, farming fields and hamlets of the helpless villagers, dissolving their mud houses in the process.
Traversing on foot and by motorcycle, the team went into the area to witness several clusters of villages completely cut off by the river distributary, making life most vulnerable. Villagers are being supplied with food by boat or by somehow struggling through the waters.
The Joygram Welfare Society Community Centre, with whom the Aarogya Vahini team works shoulder to shoulder for non-communicable diseases (NCD) screenings throughout the year, have started a community kitchen and are working on a war footing with women and young volunteers cooking food for 800 homeless villagers every single day!
With prayers in their heart, Aarogya Vahini joined the mission by providing 125 individual packets of groceries with 4 kg rice, 1 kg dal, 1 kg atta (flour), 1 kg sugar and 1 ltr oil. Additional sacks of essentials were added to the Kitchen store, cumulatively providing 625 kg of Rice, 165 kg of Dal, 50 kg of Potatoes, 144 ltr of Cooking Oil with sacks of Beaten Rice and Jaggery, Puffed Rice, Soya bean, Horlicks pouches and Biscuits. This might suffice for a week, as 100 kg of rice is required for daily cooking.
The Aarogya Vahini team has continued its support with medicines for the chronic patients in this area and with internet connectivity, intends to start telemedicine services with the help of the local volunteers to address the health situation.
With a visit to the Relief Centres where currently the unfortunate, homeless villagers are staying together, the team has found the necessity for Baby food and milk.
Several Community Kitchens started by the local volunteers around clusters of villages are cooking food for hundreds of villagers from each kitchen every day and transporting in local cycle-vans through the muddy lanes and in between the river water. Boats are being used exclusively for four to five clusters of villages which are particularly vulnerable due to the imminent high tide which will appear in the next four to five days. This high tide will bring with it a very strong river current, making the lives of around 800 villagers truly miserable.
To distinguish between these villagers, by the degree of devastation, 60 families stand out due to their stark inhuman conditions. In order to survive, they have huddled together in a field, under the cover of a hole-ridden tarpaulin. The most necessary and immediate deliverables along with cooked food being supplied to them with cycle-vans, seems to be dry food, plastic sheets, bed rolls, bleaching powder, carbolic acid, drinking water, sanitary pads and may be, if it does not look as a luxury, sources of solar lights.
As the team returned amidst torrential rains, they prayerfully and humbly submitted and offered themselves to make a difference in the lives of these helpless villagers and propel forward in this gargantuan task!
Sri Sathya Sai Aarogya Vahini, Amphan Cyclone Relief And Restoration Activities In Chunakhali, West Bengal:
Two Community Relief Kitchens were initiated in the Coastal Areas of Chunakhali, ensuring over 7,000 meals.
The devastating cyclone Amphan, left in its aftermath, a terrible trail of destruction and misery, with villagers living in dire circumstances without roofs. The Aarogya Vahini team with their humble offering were able to initiate two Community Kitchens for serving cooked food twice a day for 600 villagers in the areas of Chunakhali of South 24 Parganas of Dhekberia, Sachiakhali area.
Volunteers added 1,000 kg rice, 300 kg potato, 200 kg dal, 60 ltrs mustard oil and 30 kg soybean to the Kitchen Store. The local volunteers with teachers are working shoulder to shoulder and have been relentlessly stretching their helping hands to the cause, trying to reach out to as many people as possible.
Dry Ration And Milk Offered To Three Coastal Adivasi Villages:
Amidst oppressive weather conditions with high humidity volunteers, with masks, struggled to overcome fatigue, dehydration and also navigate the slippery alluvial soil of the river banks to reach with boats to three Adivasi villages of Gangdhar Para, Jana Para, Adivasi Para, to deliver dry relief materials. Flattened Rice, Jaggery, Baby Milk Powder and Pure Drinking Water were distributed to the communities across the broken man–made dams. Tarpaulins were supplied to the people without huts, amidst many.
With alarming health needs, a telemedicine centre has been planned at Chunakhali, which will be initiated in the coming days, in addition to food and relief supplies!