Be the Reason for a Smile

Malavika Krishna.K, IIK Young Reporter
Sunday, August 26, 2018

At the Annual Science Gala of SIF Kuwait, in April 2018, Dr. Raju Narayana Swami IAS was the chief guest and, in his speech, he told us one thing which touched my heart a lot. He said that, success in life is not about the materialistic achievements in life. If we can be the reason for a smile of relief, for anyone who we come across, life is successful. Since last week, knowingly or unknowingly people around me proved to be the living examples of this concept.

Imagine, you just went out for a break somewhere and when you return, your building is submerged underwater up to 2 or 3 floors and you can’t even get close to it; lot of people being rescued from your building and the surrounding ones; you are sure that your home is completely destroyed, water-filled and you have lost every bit you had. Scary it is, right? Last day I woke up to such a dream.

It has been days since we all actually slept. The Kerala flash floods literally shattered the whole of ‘Gods Own Country’. As the news was spreading, we constantly kept calling our grandparents and other relatives asking if they were okay, and enquired about the water level. With River Periyar running through the peripherals of our native place, our concern was to make them shift to a safer area with a thought that if at all the water level increases with the dams being opened. Full concentration was now on television news channels. My parents were so anxious that they were switching through news channels, getting live updates of the destruction happening miles away. Sitting here in Kuwait, it was difficult to get the actual glimpse of what was happening. Many of our friends and teachers were also in trouble as they could not come back to Kuwait, and many had their homes completely submerged in water.

News came about the rescue operations and the relief camps being setup by NGOs. People were rescued and brought to these camps. Those at safe grounds started coming together for the good cause and gradually the small camp setups were turning bigger and bigger with the inflow of rescued people. Gradually, we all got the jerk that this flood is going to be a disaster. The visuals on television were frightening.

Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, Fire force, local people, NGOs, fishermen; world started witnessing the compassion of a Keralite for their fellow beings. Cyber space turned to be the rescue control room with lots of people from different part of the world, my parents being one among them, coordinating the rescue requests. Boat rescue, airlifting, diving expert operations all were in full swing. There were lot of areas where the team could not arrive. Many more were still trapped with water on all sides. The rescue team tried their level best to save everyone, but many died and many are still said to be missing by their family members.

From Day 1, we could see the unity of our people, lending a hand to the victims. Voluntary groups were formed at many places. They started collection and distribution of provisions like food and other essentials. At many camps there was surplus relief materials and at many others, a dearth. I could see my parents constantly in contact with their friends back in Kerala, who were also volunteering for the groundwork, coordinating with the one ‘ready’ and connecting them to the one’s ‘in need’, making sure that all dearths are compensated with the surplus, not only materials but also people with empathy.

Four days, water started receding. However, the job is not done yet. The next step is the rehabilitation in a coherent manner. Bringing back the victims to their normal life is our collective responsibility. Many settlements in hilly regions of districts like Idukki and Wayanad were completely cut-off from the main land due to landslides. Many lost their shelter. A huge amount of money and months are needed to re-construct houses, bridges, roads and other amenities. Disinfection and cleaning the house is a herculean task for many, not having a clue as to where to start. If the cleaning and disinfection is not done properly, Kerala will have to face another catastrophe - an epidemic outbreak. Cleaning volunteers also should take necessary precautions by using gloves, boots, masks etc. Our doctors are ready with their support to fight the foreseen causalities.

The relief operations need our support. I know many of our families already contributed to the fund collected to support relief efforts. It is also wonderful that many countries and individuals around the world are offering donation to the disaster-relief fund. While contributing, whatever be it, money or materials, make sure that we give it to trusted ones so that it reaches the needy at the right time. I am sure this time will also pass.

However, my concern is something different; the emotional support for the flood victims. Even though we are not actually witnessing it, the cries of these people shown through news channels itself were disturbing. A big challenge in front of us is - how to deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder? The ones who reached relief camp safely, clutching their lives tight; now started going back to the reality that nothing is left which they once owned. Their lifetime’s earning is gone, taken away by nature’s fury. News came out that a man died from cardiac arrest, after returning to his house and beholding the devastating view. Someone else committed suicide. I am sure many ladies in the camps would be on the brink of a mental depression. Not only adults, but many kids are also facing this. They might wake up in the night, scared of bad dreams. How can one accept the fact that even though life is saved, everything is lost and they have to start from scratch? After all, how much can a compensation help those affected? Most of them have only a house structure left with them - nothing inside it. Who knows how long that house will be able to roof over their heads?

The worst part after all this is not the flood, but the fact that we human beings have still not learnt our lesson. I was actually hoping that after this gets over, this calamity would change our attitude towards nature. Unfortunately, I could feel the sparks of those hope going down with the river just after the first few days of red alert when I saw a video where the waste residues after flood on a bridge is dumped back into the river. The mishap which took its place in Kerala history could be taken as the reaction of nature with heavy rain, landslides, flooding rivers and more to the injustice done to nature in the name of development. At least now we should decide to live in harmony with nature. Mother Nature has shown us what she can do.

I have always seen on the television screen disasters which happened around the world, be it Cyclone in Odisha, Tsunami in Japan or an Earthquake in Nepal. However, never did I even once empathize and realize the actual pain of it, until today. This is our chance to show compassion, to not only support financially, but also make them mentally and emotionally strong. Need of the hour is to give them the confidence that we all will be with them in the process, until we find them settled.

Involving in the coordination activities by my parents and their friends, I completely understood the feelings and sufferings of all those affected by the Kerala flash floods. Many of our relatives also lost their home forever. I am so proud and happy that among the volunteers who rushed to Kerala from Kuwait in this time of need included our family friends from a known NGO. Help rehabilitating the lives of people in Kerala. Help bringing back the smile on their face.

At this moment be selfish on making our life successful and meaningful by being the reason for many to smile with confidence.
We shall overcome!

Malavika Krishna
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Express your comment on this article

 
SHAHUL HAMEED
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Well written . Your concern at this age for less privileged and victims of by flood are commendable.

Reshmy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Thank You Dr.Krishna and Jisha

Dr.S.KrishnaKumar
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Beautifully penned down about your real concern for the flood affected regions and people of God''s own country. Really inspired by your words and deeds. God bless you child and am sure the people of Kerala will come back with the saying as you mentioned "We shall overcome"...

Jisha Subin Jagdish
Monday, August 27, 2018
Well Written Malavika. Congratulations!!!

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