As Sumeet Dayma, Tushar Bhamare, Abhishek Joshi and Vilas Sonawane from Nasik, Maharashtra watched the horrific aftermath of the Uttarakhand Floods unfold on TV, a burning desire to leave the comfort of their homes and reach out to the thousands of affected people gripped their hearts.
The very next day, egged on by their Art of Living teacher Justin Shaun from Mumbai, they began preparations for a 10 day odyssey that would impact their lives in unimaginable ways. As 21 years old Sumeet shared at the end of the ten days while returning to Mumbai " I don't think even the next 3 years of college will ever match the experiences and the range of emotions that I have felt during these last 10 days".
Armed with 7000 packets of 'Theplas' that the team had prepared and lovingly packed , they set off from Mumbai for the flooded valleys of Uttarakhand.
Reaching Srinagar via Dehradun, they were surprised to discover that their courage was not matched by everyone. Guided by Dr. Harish and Shweta, for two days they searched for drivers who would be willing to take them on the 3 day treacherous journey to Triyugi Narayan and Son Prayag, areas still totally cut-off from any sort of help. Not ones to waste time, they meanwhile reached out to the villages of Dongra and Gothind, near Pauri, with relief supplies.
On the 3rd day, loaded with food and medical supplies,the intrepid Samaritans finally left for Guptakashi with Dr. Sunil and Dr. Shashank. They traveled 16 hours, reaching their destination only at 12:30 am, midnight! Early next morning, they set off again with the doctors for the village of Kalimath which had been totally cut-off for the last 2 weeks. Covering the last 4 Kms of this tough terrain on foot and carrying a heavy load of supplies their exhaustion disappeared when they saw the plight of the people of Kalimath. Surviving with meager food supplies and no medical care, for the inhabitants of Kalimath, the Art of Living team were no less than messengers of God. Surprised that a team of young boys could reach them when they had been neglected by all others, the inhabitants of Kalimath hugged them like their very own.
Over the next few days, as more Art of Living volunteers have reached Kalimath, further forays into the villages of Kotma and Chilon continue to bring more troubling facts to light. As 10 of our volunteers, stationed at Kotma, lead surveys into the surrounding villages, reports of hundreds of casualties are sent back. A heavy downpour on the night of 8th/9th July has since swept away the rickety bridge connecting Kotma to Kalimath.
Our volunteers, led by Amit and Shashank, now stranded in Kotma are amazingly, concerned not so much for their own safety but more for the fast-depleting resources of the villagers. Our immediate challenge now lies in reaching out to them as soon as possible.
If you'd like to volunteer,
Contact Swami Divyanand: 09627057932; Shweta Golani: 09837246264
If you'd like to donate funds for the Uttrakand Disaster,
You can contribute via Cheque/ Demand Draft
Account Name: IAHV Disaster Relief Fund
Address: International Association for Human Values,
Art of Living International Centre,
21 Kms Kanakapura Road, Udayapura,
South Bangalore Taluk, Bangalore- 560082
Ph- +91 9342540105
(Please note: Kindly send us your contact details along with Pan Card Copy)
For contributions through RTGS/NEFT (Wire Transfer) & international contributions, kindly write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +91 9342540105.
For any clarifications, call Sangita Gujrati- 9342540105
Written by : Shweta Golani