Kerala, God’s own country, is getting lashed by Nature’s watery fury. The rains have been descending, wrathfully, unrelentingly, mercilessly until the whole state has been submerged under water. My tears add to the levels even as my heart breaks for one of my favourite places on earth.
If I was not Maharashtrian, I would surely have wanted to belong to Kerala. Even before I visited it, Kerala captured my fascination for being an outlier in India and superior to entire countries for its human development indexes. Almost 100% of Kerala citizens are literate and healthy. They take care of their women so that mothers don’t die in childbirth. Children, once born, survive the challenging first 5 years. I wrote my Master’s thesis on Kerala because I found it so unusual.
When I did visit Kerala, I instantly fell in love. I saw old women reading the newspaper on the verandah, not so common in many other parts of India and so ordinary here. The roads were clean and smooth. People were friendly and welcoming.
That’s why it is not surprising to me at all that in this time of extreme duress, the locals have come out to help each other. Fishermen getting into the rescue efforts, without rest. Neighbours searching homes to ensure no elderly is left in a drowning home. Children carried on shoulders because they are too short to stay above the 8-foot water levels. Even stray dogs and other animals have not been forgotten. Communities have mobilised without a second thought to take care of each other.
I’m also swelled with pride for the way in which the state and central governments have immediately stepped up to tackle the crisis head on and ensure the welfare of affected people in every corner, however remote. Disaster relief teams, the army, navy and many other governmental teams have come forward to rescue people, get essential supplies through, and provide crucial services that only they can. Politics is nowhere to be seen; humanity is at the forefront.
Private companies have emerged as robust partners to disaster relief NGOs. Amazon India, Flipkart, Google and BigBasket have made it possible for regular people to donate. On Amazon India’s site, you can choose to donate through four different NGOs: Goonj, Oxfam India, Habitat for Humanity India and World Vision India. These NGOs have pre-identified the supplies most urgently needed, and you can choose however much you want to donate, identify it as a gift, and Amazon delivers it to the NGO’s distribution center.
To me, this is possibly the best use of the immense technology that we have at our disposal today. Beyond the frivolous retail therapy and avaricious consumerism that it is largely known for, e-commerce has shown its better side. I am so grateful.
I used it. I went on Amazon India and donated everything I could: sanitary napkins, innerwear, sleeping mats, pressure cookers, hair oil, toothpaste, stainless steel eating plates, stainless steel containers, and water filters. Some things will be needed immediately, some will help people rebuild their lives. It felt so good. Finally, I had a way to give my help in a crisis, when time is of essence. I also hope it makes the people who have lost everything feel a bit better, that there are others who care about them and have not turned away in their time of need.
I have been to Kerala a few times, and it has always been kind and generous to me. This time, I had the opportunity to return the goodness. I won’t be going on the vacation I was planning to relax and rejuvenate. I have no regrets because to be able to make a few of my Kerala friends feel better in this difficult time is so much better.
If you want to donate, go to the Kerala aid page on Amazon India