The rains that began in Kerala during early June rose to a devastating high by August. For the first time in the history of the state, 35 out of 42 dams had to be opened. The floods and landslides that have ensued have been cruel and left us all wondering what we can do to help our brothers and sisters in Kerala.
Hundreds of people have lost their lives, lakhs have lost their homes, and all 14 districts in the state are placed on red alert. At an hour like this, it’s imperative that we as humanity come together. We need to be doing whatever we can to help families whose entire lives are being torn apart overnight.
Expert agencies like NDRF and the defence forces are carrying out incredible rescue operations all over the state. But there is a lot to be done once people have gotten their feet on safe, dry land. Nonprofit organizations like Goonj are on the ground in Kerala, right now. They are assessing the needs in different areas and mapping out ways in which people from all over the world can help them.
What does Goonj do?
Goonj is one of India’s most trusted nonprofit organizations built on the foundation of using urban discard as a tool to alleviate poverty. They have been on the ground for 19 years, working across 22 states in India to empower rural communities to build facilities for themselves.
Goonj’s team, along with Anshu Gupta, their founder, flew down to Kerala as soon as they heard of the disaster. They started with a plan of working in the districts of Alappuzha, Idukki, Malappuram, Palakkad, Kannur and Wayanad. But when they saw the situation in the state, they decided to expand it further with a formal set up of Goonj operations in Cochin for long-term work.
Right now most of the inward and outward transport is blocked and there isn’t much they can do. But the team is using this time to collect needed resources for relief and rehabilitation. Their operations will begin in a few days.
Phase 1 – Immediate Relief
The trucks with the needed material will start moving soon from Goonj’s centres in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. Shortly after, there will be trucks that come in from their other major offices as well including Delhi, Mumbai, and Rishikesh.
Their initial target is to reach out to about 30,000 families in the next few months. They are currently trying to raise INR 10.00 crore for the first stage of operations. The rough estimation at present is that each kit they provide to a family will be worth INR 3000.
A typical kit by Goonj has a few kgs of dry ration, some utensils, tarpaulin, mat, blankets and other essentials like sanitary pads, slippers, and so on. Goonj uses their expertise in mobilizing material to put together useful kits at low costs. They provide clothes separately as per the need and acceptance of communities.
They will utilize the remaining INR 1 crore to help institutions and communities with their needs. This will go towards the Aanganwadis, schools, and health and welfare centres. One of their main targets is the tribal population, which generally is the most ignored section during such relief operations.
Goonj makes sure to not duplicate the effort done by other organizations. They try to fill the gaps in the last mile areas where others have not reached or people still have their basic needs unfulfilled.
Phase 2 – Rehabilitation
The real challenge arises 3-6 months after the flood. After the first few months, the media stops paying attention to the area and most relief agencies stop their operations. People begin to forget about the disaster under the impression that everyone has gotten the needed help. But this is far from the case, which is why this phase is often more important than the first.
For a calamity of this scale, many people would still not have received basic necessities in the first few months. So Goonj continues to do the same work by providing kits of necessities to those who need them.
As for the rest of the people, they will need a lot of assistance to build back their communities and lives. This is when Goonj starts talking to people hit by the disaster. They try to engage these people in repairing and taking care of their local issues with their wisdom, resources and efforts. Goonj uses the material they need as a reward for their involvement.
GiveIndia has joined hands with Goonj to help them raise funds through our LetzChange portal. To help Goonj carry out the urgent and important work that they are doing, please click here to donate to their relief fund.