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Donating to flood relief is not an invitation to dispose your expired, spoiled items. It involves responsibility, sensitivity, and dignity, writes a donor to the Jammu and Kashmir flood relief efforts.
As I saw the images of water sweeping away houses, roads, and lives, a simple dinner of dal chawal looked like a luxury to me. It made my four-year-old ask questions – why are people walking through water?
I wasn’t happy being a spectator or being an armchair volunteer sharing pictures of heroism of our army in the flood relief operations in Jammu and Kashmir. “How can we contribute for this calamity?” the husband asked too. I looked out for a trustworthy non-government organization (NGO) and found Goonj. It has been working for flood victims for many years.
I reached out to people through Whatsapp and Facebook groups. Out of 40 odd people, only 8 friends responded. I shared the list of items needed by Goonj, and within two days, we pooled in much-needed items like toilet supplies, footwear, medicines, woolen blankets and utensils, hired a vehicle, and sent it to their collection centre.
My experience of this little contribution was that we have become insensitive and too busy to care for others.
My experience of this little contribution was that we have become insensitive and too busy to care for others. We have all the time to share jokes and silly forwards on Whatsapp and Facebook, or to plan parties or buy sequinned chania choli for kids for dandiya. But who has time to figure out what’s happening to people who have lost their house, assets, vehicles etc in a natural calamity?
Another thing which I noticed is our tendency to give stuff from our storerooms! On its Facebook page, Goonj repeatedly requested people to stop sending old, dirty, and ripped clothes, expired medicines and namkeens etc. Sheetal Mehra, a volunteer from Mumbai, who along with her sisters started a drive to collect stuff for Jammu flood victims on behalf of Chinar International, received just clothes for the first few days.
“People came out in large numbers to contribute, but at one point we had to refuse old clothes outright as it isn’t the only thing that’s needed” says Sheetal Mehra. Now, as she has the list of most needed items, she is requesting donors to give as per the need.
Anything given without dignity will have the worst psychological impact on the taker.
“We want the best food and best clothes, but we end up giving used clothes or leftover food. Anything given without dignity will have the worst psychological impact on the taker” says Dr Rita Savla, founder and director of Radhee, a disaster and education foundation. She has a first-person experience of how people donate, because she has worked in the rescue teams for more than 10 natural and man-made disasters, including the Kutch earthquake, the Indian Ocean tsunami, and the Mumbai train blasts. She has seen alu puri being donated to sick people in the hospitals, and basmati rice being distributed to the flood victims in South!
Well, this weekend, I will be giving alu puri and sprout salad too. But at a price of Rs 20. The proceeds of this food sale will go to the relief fund which my son’s school is raising. I hope this little contribution will give people in the valley hope, for better days to come again!
Pic credit: PTI and Hindustan Times
Rachna Monga Koppikar aka The Great Gruhini is a finance writer who’s worked with
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