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We All Need To Do Our Bit For Kerala. And No Act Of Kindness Is Small Or Insignificant

The scale of any tragedy can only be estimated. One could never possibly imagine the colossal scale of impact. Therefore, it is useless to pretend that one is able to. The situation in Kerala is no different.

Even as I write this, I cannot comprehend that over 661,000 people are presently displaced and there is a looming threat to thousands more. Over 350 people have lost their lives, and the destinies of their families have changed forever. Across the state are hastily organized relief camps where people are coming to terms with the misfortune that has befallen them. Over 200,000 people have taken refuge in over 1,500 relief camps across 14 districts of Kerala. As report after report streams in, the distressing picture of a state in misery is inescapable. It is also unparalleled and unprecedented.

And, during these distressing times, emerge heroic tales of compassion and selflessness. Men in uniform brave walls of water to ensure that lives are safe and the extent of the tragedy is mitigated, while ordinary men and women, fisherfolk and good samaritans, without any means, training, equipment, or comfort, comb neighbourhoods, night and day, to ensure a diligent and concerted search and rescue process, often disregarding grave perils to their own lives!

However, Kerala’s woes are only beginning. Roads, bridges, and public infrastructure have been ruined. It is estimated that 10,000 kms of roads are damaged and require rebuilding. The scale of damage caused to houses across hundreds of villages and towns is unfathomable. Scores of villages lie inundated in water and debris, without power, communication systems, or access to relief measures. Essential supplies including provisions, potable water, medicines, fuel, food, clothing, beddings, etc., are in short supply. Corpses of dead animals lie littered in water, threatening an outbreak of disease and infection. The state of healthcare infrastructure to respond to the aftereffects of this tragedy cannot be immediately assessed. Entire plantations of cash crops lie devastated. The state government has pegged the economic loss at a staggering ₹195 billion (₹19, 512 crores). These losses continue to mount even as I write this. The human cost and emotional impact of this tragedy are far from being calculable.

ALAPPUZHA, INDIA – AUGUST 20: National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) six team members from Gujarat distribute food, water and medicines to flood victims on August 20, 2018 in Alappuzha, India. In a huge relief to Keralites, rain has kept away from major parts of the state hit by floods and landslides that have killed over 200 people since August 8. Nearly 9 lakh people are now lodged in shelter camps in Kerala. (Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

But, this outpouring of mine should not be construed as an abridged version of news reports. It isn’t. Elsewhere, lately, there have been noises of the not-so-nice kind. It is being propagated that this tragedy has befallen us since we are lowly, immoral, and unholy ‘beef-eaters’, besides being utterly ungodly and uncivilized in desiring that our women be allowed the basic essential (not privilege) of equality to worship a Lord Ayyappa, who it seems, according to the archaic beliefs of some people, desires only male patronage! It is futile, I know, to reason with nitwits whose intellectual disabilities do not permit them to comprehend cultural beliefs outside of their own tiny and seemingly important realms of existence, that they glorify as being the holy grail of living.

No, that is not how this tragedy has come about. Not due to the wrath of gods, nor in the consumption of the holy cow. But, yes, due to a blatant disregard for the environment, and the proximate cause being the incessant downpour that has struck us mercilessly and unabated for months. But, this is not the time for a post-mortem. Not yet. There will be agencies, bodies, and commissions of enquiry, established exclusively for that purpose. They will, in turn, determine, rightfully so, that beef, gods, and religion have nothing to do with floods and natural disasters. However, I’m not sure if that inference would satisfy those relics steeped in mindless and medieval attitudes. There is simply no cure for foolishness and the rest of us have little choice but to endure the pain of sharing the world with such imbeciles. However, mercifully, such dim-witted, gormless, and unintelligent voices are not the reflection of the population at large. They are isolated and individual at best.

Now, it is imperative that I state the purpose of this write-up. It is, as I mentioned before, not the summary of news reports to aggregate facts and figures. Neither is it an opinion to counter the mindless voices of some severely disordered who continue to attribute wildly insane reasons to the cause of this grave tragedy that has struck millions. This post is to express gratitude to nations and people who, from far and wide, across the boundaries of cultures, borders, and religions, have stood with us in solidarity during our time of grief and misery. Your support in gesture, kind, and capital are acts of kindness that we shall, forever, remain indebted and grateful for. It has reaffirmed in us, once again, that during calamity, we can stand together as one, to shoulder each other, in exactly the manner which is expected of us. During these trying times, we are witness to extraordinary feats of courage and selflessness by ordinary people whose zeal and zest allow us the gift of life. Armies of volunteers, military and medical personnel, government officials, and ordinary people continue to brave incomprehensible dangers to ensure that further lives are not lost. This is a true reflection of the unequivocally positive nature of the human spirit and its endeavour. It is this gift that keeps us alive, literally! But, Kerala is in need of a whole lot more. There is so much that needs to be done and we could do our bit, in our own way. No act of kindness is small, inconsequential, or insignificant.

As the moral and social philosopher, Erich Hoffer once said, “the hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” That is what I find myself doing today, an atheist in prayer, one who is counting his blessings for the fortune that he continues to enjoy.

If you are in an affected zone, here is how you can request for help:

To contribute in kind, please see

To contribute to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund, please see

Important Announcements on the Floods in Kerala:

A list of relief camps across Kerala:

Relief Camp Requirements:

List of Registered Requests (District-wise):

District Needs & Collection Centers:

Register as Volunteer:

NGO/Company Registration for Volunteering:

District level point of contacts:

Map view of Relief Resources and Flooded Streets:

Google Person Finder (Kerala Floods):

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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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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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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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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