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Don’t Help Kerala, But Don’t Spread Hate Either

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For the first time in 92 years, Kerala is suffering from a massive calamity. Heavy rains have resulted in overflowing major rivers like Pampa, Bharatapuzha, and Periyar. Due to a rise in water levels, the Idukki dam had to be opened. Over 34 dams and reservoirs had to be opened and 41 rivers overflowed eventually. The districts were given a red alert. Apart from Kollam, Trivandrum, and Kasargode, almost all districts have been heavily affected. Floods and landslides hit populated areas destroying agriculture and infrastructure.

As per current reports, over 370 people have died. More than 2 lakh people have been made homeless and been moved to relief camps. Hundreds are stranded in different sections and most of them don’t have access to food, water and other resources like clothes, medicines etc.

I live in Kochi. I have the privilege of being in a safe area. I have my food and go to sleep peacefully. During all this, I am reminded that there are millions out there, drenched in the rain, looking for something basic like a warm blanket. I use my access to electricity and internet to help as many distress calls as possible by sharing them on Facebook to bring the authorities’ attention to it. If you look at any Keralite’s Facebook page then it is filled with SOS calls. I have friends and family members who are currently in relief camps. Many other friends are doing everything they can to help authorities to reach more people, volunteers who are having sleepless nights.

It is indeed heartwarming to see the unity of people during this crisis. Their selfless attempts to save people and give up their resources for the same. Police, Navy, and reporters are all over the state. KSEB engineers have ensured that there is electricity during this crisis.  I kept thinking to myself that disasters bring people together. But at the same time, it brings out the worst in people.

It started with WTF news related to religious fundamentalists requesting people to not donate to Kerala as the state’s population consists of those belonging to a different religion than them.

Have some beer with beef” was written by someone safe in their home.

Ragamalika Karthekeyan writes on Newsminute:

“As thousands and thousands of people across the country and the world are trying to mobilize relief efforts for Kerala, and are trying to do their bit in some way – small or big – some people stand out conspicuously with comments that are motivated, simply, by hate.”

On Twitter, I noticed more communal writings. Author and MP Rajiv Malhotra humbly requested that Hindus be helped from ironically, a Christian country.

Several people echoed the same sentiments in abundant numbers.

 

Some dragged in “love-jihad”.

More folks expressed their insensitivity with their unconditional love for cows.

Various sections have started dragging in Sabarimala controversy with RSS man and RBI official took to Twitter to spew the same.


Several others echoed the same.

When Gujarat Earthquake happened in 2001, Civil aviation minister T John from Karnataka, stated that “the Earthquake is god’s wrath due to the mistreatment of Christians”. He was forced to resign. Now, I see the whole linking of Sabarimala in abundant numbers. Agree or disagree, this kind of insensitivity is just both heartbreaking and angering.

Personally, I tried to ignore all this but the number is going up with fake profiles hijacking news threads and distress calls. It is my humble request to these people – If you don’t want to help the people of Kerala then fine. It is up to you and it is not right to force someone to do an action against their will. However, you are causing damage by spewing this amount of communal hatred. No amount of whataboutery and callousness can fill this because, no matter who has done what in the past or what other communities might be doing, doesn’t make this less insensitive. I am sure that there is a trickle of humanity left in you. It could be awakened if you come and see the state of people in the flood-affected areas of Idukki, Wayanad, Aluva, Chalakudy, Pathanamthitta, or if you could see the SOS calls from people across the state. No one stops to check who belongs to which religion or caste.

There is no need for pity or to be extra nice.

Kerala will survive this together with people who see beyond the boundaries and on a daily basis, we get heartwarming messages and help from people. That’s what matters.

If the fundamentalists can’t spare money then the least they could do is spare us from the hatred they have for Kerala as a state, or the culture or what people choose to eat.

I am equally disappointed that the national media did not cover the Kerala floods more aggressively. The Center is yet to declare Kerala floods as a national disaster despite the entire state being affected and neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka facing setbacks. Only a portion of the fund requested by Kerala CM has been allocated by the Center while plenty is spent on statues.

That doesn’t mean that I have lost complete faith in the Centre. I hope that steps will be taken and accelerated. Damage caused by the flood is estimated to take years to repair but the bonds will build the state.

Love Trumps Hate.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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