This Is How You Can Help Chennai: #ChennaiRains

Posted: December 10, 2015

If you want to help Chennai come back to its feet, this is how you can help Chennai. An account by a volunteer, in the #ChennaiRains.

Chennai and Cuddalore have been hit with one the worst disasters since the Tsunami in 2004. The unprecedented devastation cannot be described with mere words. Lives have been upturned, in some cases quite irrevocably. But the rise of the netizens in response to this natural calamity has been heart-warming to say the least. People from across the country and the world lending a helping hand simply because they can. Volunteers were pouring into Chennai and Cuddalore braving the waters, non-existent roads and much more.

In the midst of all this, I’m pretty sure there are a whole lot of you out there wanting to help but not really sure how to. It is important to know “how” to help, to truly make a positive difference to the victims of a natural calamity. I have written this blog trying to consolidate the most useful and effective ways you can help Chennai at the moment.




There are numerous ways one can help a disaster hit area and it’s people, but the ways that make most sense include:

Donations

Be it material or money, donations are always a smart choice when trying to help. When donating, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Material donations: If you are part of a residential or WhatsApp community, you can mobilise a donation drive. All you need are a few empty cartons and a social media platform to get a donation drive started. Just make sure you are collecting items that are relevant to the flood victims and not creating a dumping ground for things you don’t need. In flood-hit areas, give priority to blankets over old clothes and mosquito repellents and medicines over old toys. There are several groups and NGOs volunteering to work out the pickup and drop logistics for donated items from locations across the country. A list of such volunteers across Bangalore is available here. You should be able to find the list of volunteers to help with transportation to Chennai for any Indian city on Facebook or Google. Please make sure you confirm that the materials you have sent have reached the a legitimate volunteer group in Chennai/Cuddalore – you can talk to the people transporting your goods and get this information.
  2. Monetary donations: Please make sure you DO NOT make money transfers to an unknown person’s private account. This only encourages unscrupulous charlatans roaming the internet to capitalize and gain from a tragedy. There are several organizations doing very good work at Chennai, a list of some of them are available here. #ChennaiMicroFund is also an organization to donate to that’s doing some very good work, in and around Chennai. This website also has some effective ways of helping Chennai with monetary contributions. If you work for a company that matches your contribution, please go with that, but after finding out from your HR which NGO or volunteer group will benefit from the contribution.

Volunteering

Possibly one of the most strenuous while simultaneously being the most rewarding when it comes to helping victims of any disaster. If you are already not part of any NGO or volunteer group, you can get in touch with different groups working with Chennai (list can be found here) and find out how best you can volunteer for the relief and rehabilitation work in Chennai. This may not be a very viable option for mothers with young children at home, but if you can take the time off, it will be well worth your time. Just make sure you inoculate, immunize and medicate yourself suitably as flood-struck areas are more often than not, fertile breeding ground for germs. Protect yourself so you can give your volunteering group and the flood victims your best.

Sharing information

Social media plays a monumental role in today’s society. Facebook and Twitter played a huge role in the relief efforts across Chennai and Cuddalore. Share important information that you receive about emergencies or contact information that can help people but please do some sanity checks to confirm the information is still valid and is not a hoax. There was a video of a house collapsing due to a deluge of water supposedly in Chennai that went viral. But just a closer look at the video would have led one to realise that the people in the video were not even Indian! Please share information responsibly, but do make sure you use the social media so connect people with the help they need.

I’ve listed the most effective ways to help Chennai and Cuddalore. Sometimes your contribution can be just innovation and technology. The website www.chennairains.org was created by a bunch of NRIs and folks in India who could not travel to Chennai as their way of helping Chennai. It started off as a shared XL sheet where people could share details of where shelter was available across Chennai and today is one of the most reliable sources of information about the Chennai relief efforts.

You can choose any way to help Chennai and Cuddalore that makes sense to you. What happened in Chennai is probably a reminder to us of what really matters in our lives and how we can lose so much in the blink of an eye. Today we are fortunate enough to be able to do what we can to help them. Let’s make it count!

Cover image via Shutterstock

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