Coimbatore lends a helping hand to Chennai


Prasanna Kumar, one of the volunteers who started the group-Coimbatore for Tamil Nadu – two days after the tragedy struck, tells us, “I have been stationed in Chennai for the last one week and I intend to stay for another week to help with the relief operations. Coimbatore for Tamil Nadu comprises 200 people from 60 NGOs providing rescue and relief material for Chennai. When we first started the group, the biggest hurdle we faced was connectivity. We weren’t able to reach out to anyone in the rain-battered areas in both, Cuddalore and Chennai, hence, we decided to go there ourselves. Though the city is gradually limping back to normalcy, the conditions last week were pathetic. Some of the slums in the interior areas hadn’t received any relief material and that’s what we are trying to focus on. We provided bottled water, milk and milk powder, blankets, towels, bread, biscuits and jam, basic medicines, mosquito repellents and sanitary napkins.”

For filmmaker Praveen Nandagopal, it was a goosebump-inducing moment when a victim from Cuddalore called him up asking him to help with relief materials. “One of the victims, Pushparaj (who happens to be friend of his college mate) had heard about our work. He called me up and cried over the phone. He said that there were around 1,200 people in his village, but no one had really helped them so far. He asked if we could help them with materials to cook. We soon sent out stoves and rice to them.” He adds, “I was first planning to send relief material alone when I heard about this bunch of people who had formed a group to help flood victims. I joined the group that had around 200 volunteers. The interesting part is most of us had never met each other before this and every interaction happened on social networking sites until we got together. We had volunteers in Chennai and Cuddalore, who were coordinating the relief work. We also took part in the rescue work in Chennai, especially in Pallikaranai, by going out there in boats and rescuing people,” says Praveen.

In the meantime, a bunch of old classmates from Ramnagar teamed up to supply relief material. “We put up status messages on social networking sites and the word spread like wildfire. We then started collecting relief materials in Ramnagar on Thursday. We tied up with few NGOs and private organisations for a speedy delivery. The response was awesome and quick, and from so many! We weren’t surprised, though. Some of them gave away cash and we used that money to buy stoves for people in Cuddalore. We also collected blankets, new clothes, sanitary napkins, rice, milk powder, water bottles etc. We had managed to send around 15 trucks of relief material by the end of last week, and we are working on sending more. We had people in Chennai and Cuddalore, who ensured that the rice we sent was cooked and delivered to the needy. We are now planning to replace textbooks of those school-going children, whose books have been washed away by the floods,” says Survajith S Krishnan, who teamed up with his friends Shyam Kumar and Krishnakumar.

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For Aashish Jain, it was his mother’s personal connection with Chennai that made him contribute. “My mother, who grew up in Chennai, was getting constant updates about the deluge from her friends and was getting distressed. This prompted me to contribute – I also collected essential commodities, the entire family pitched in and we sent across the materials over last weekend to Chennai.”

Were there any challenges while sending material? “We didn’t face any major challenge as such. But we had heard of instances where people were waylaying relief material near Cuddalore. So, we didn’t use any banner and hence, the transportation was smooth. We are planning to continue sending supplies after doing a survey. We have been working 24/ 7 over the last week and we are ready to work for as long as people need us. We have sent material worth over a crore so far,” sums up Praveen.

Courtesy : Times of India 


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