Uttarakhand Floods: Immediate Call for Relief-Action
Uttarakhand floods: Reaching out to the affected
In an initiative to provide immediate material and trauma relief to the evacuees of the calamity-struck Uttarakhand, The Art of Living volunteers in Dehradun and North India under the aegis of Volunteer For A Better India (VBI) have been working with the paramilitary forces, the IAF and disaster management teams. The Art of Living's sister organisation, the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) united in all its relief efforts.
The IAHV in partnership with The Art of Living Foundation (Art of Living) has established a disaster relief fund to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the floods in Uttarakhand.
The Art of Living-IAHV intervention
The IAHV – Art of Living volunteers began relief work on June 17th at the Jolly Grant Airport at 4 am. They worked in coordination with military and the disaster management team, the Government of Uttarakhand to send relief materials and food to the pilgrims who were stuck in different areas. There are many organizations sending relief material, but there was no man-labour to distribute it. The Art of Living-IAHV volunteers along with the Indian army undertook this job to provide the evacuees with water and food.
Ever since heavy floods lashed the area and resulted in heavy loss of lives, volunteers of the organization have set up relief-camps in Guptkashi, Dharasu, Harsil, Rudraprayag, Gauchar Rishikesh and Jolly Grant airport. Volunteers trekked and reached out to remotest of villages like Chandrapura, Medula, Sili, Agastya Muni, Vijaynagar, Ukhimth, Neily, Kund and Arkund to provide relief material, food, medical-aid and trauma relief to the inhabitants in distress.
Door to door relief material was distributed in homes that lost an earning member. A team of 250 volunteers including doctors are constantly providing trauma relief, medical aid, and food, assisting in rescue operations and clearing the debris. 100 truckloads of relief material which came in from various parts of the country has reached areas which had not seen food for few days.
Apart from providing material relief, IAHV has been raising funds and also conducting trauma-relief meditation for the evacuees, who reach the airport as a transit before they move ahead for their hometowns.
Such workshops held at Dharasu and Harsil have reached out to hundreds of people and have helped them be calm and has provided solace. "Meditation, breathing exercises and satsangs are helping people to regain their composure and faith and plan their life ahead. Amidst disaster and grief, people are finding solace through these practices," shared Swami Divyanand who is camping at Guptkashi.
The rescue work by the Indian Armed Forces, NDRF, ITBP supported by The Art of Living volunteers is on, via choppers and roads too.
A brief summary of the work so far
||ART OF LIVING INTERVENTION
|Art of Living Base Camp
||R isikesh, Rudraprayag, Dharasu, Saigul ( Tehri), Chinyali.
||Coordination and distribution to various affected areas.
||Gupta akashi, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Sili Village, Dharasu, Harsil, Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Kharabi, Gauchar, Yamnotri , Risikesh, Rudraprayag, Dharasu, Saigul (Tehri), Chinyali, Chandrapuri, Hanumanchetti, Uttarkashi, Ranachetti, Saigul (Tehri), Srikot.
||Distributing food packets (dry food, packaged biscuits, raw materials including Rice, Dal, Spices, and Tea leaves), Utensils, Torches, Blankets, Baby foo d, Transit Shelters, Langar, Clearing of silt and debris.
|Medical Camp, Distribution of Medicines
||Guptakashi, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Sili Village, Dharasu, Harsil, Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Kharabi, Gauchar, Yamnotri , Risikesh, Rudrapraya g, Dharasu, Saigul (Tehri), Chinyali, Chandrapuri, Hanumanchetti, Uttarkashi, Ranachetti, Saigul (Tehri), Srikot.
||Pro viding Free Medical assistance distribution of Medicine.
|Assisting the Rescue Operation
||Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun.
||Managing all the loading, distribution of relief materials and supporting the trauma - struck people. The rescue work by the Indian armed forces and NDRF, ITBP supported by Art of living volunteers is on, via choppers and roads too.
|Trauma Relief workshop
||More than 15 00 people have so far benefited from the trauma relief camp of the Art of Living at Harsil. Dharasu and other places they are organizing short sessions of meditation and breathing techniques to help the survivors shake off the trauma. About 50 personnel from the BRO (Border Road Organization underwent a trauma relief session in Guptkashi and Harshil.
Brief updates from The Art of Living at Dehradun:
Dehradun, 27 June, 9.14am
Even before the dawn breaks, the Srinagar team, led by Dr Harish, was at work along with Dr Aditi, Dr Asha and Dr Vyas. They started at 5 am by distributing tea, biscuits, rusks, etc, to the people stuck in traffic jams for long hours due to roadblocks.
Apart from running the medical and relief camp, they distributed 250 packets of food at Sirobagarh to the pilgrims being brought down on-foot by the army. Exhausted and drained, the relief on the faces of these survivors is something to be seen as they are greeted by the volunteer's team of Dr Amit, Dr Rangeel, Dr Siraz, Dr Ariz and Dr Harish.
More than 1000 pooris and chana dal was also served to 250 people at Srikot last evening from 7pm to 11:30pm. Apart from distributing dry food, packaged biscuits, they are also served with fresh food prepared by the volunteers.
In a major breakthrough today, the team has already left this morning to reach out to the villages of Sili and Tilwara that have so far remained untouched because of the major road blocks on the way. Our volunteers will be going 60kms out of the way to reach these villages.
Meanwhile, the team at Dharasu welcomed the pilgrims being rescued from Gangotri with fresh food and care and attention. In a one of a kind Satsang and Meditation session organized by The Art of Living team, these survivors were able to shake off the trauma of the last few days and come back to some semblance of normalcy. Neeraj, a teacher with The Art of Living has already flown to Harsil today morning where he will be conducting a trauma-relief session for more than 350 people.
Reports from the base camp in Rishikesh and Dehradun have been overwhelming with the offers of help pouring in from all over the country and world. Volunteers eager to pitch-in have been calling from places as far as Chennai, Trivandrum, Baroda, Bangalore and many are ready to take several weeks off from work just to be able to help here.
In a report from Gaurikund, a chopper crashed on the eve of 25 June taking lives of 20 members of the IAF, ITBP and NDRF who were on a rescue mission near Gauchar. Even as the report of crash was shocking, the IAF team on ground went ahead with their rescue operations undisturbed in spite of the loss of their colleagues and team members. It is such dedication and commitment to the mission on hand that truly sets our armed forces apart.
Inspired by their efforts, The Art of Living volunteers, who have been sleeping a couple of hours since last 10 days, ignored their exhaustion and pushed ahead with the relief task.
Too weak to walk and body shivering with a raging fever, Ram Kumar was carried down the chopper steps by two volunteers. Hungry and exhausted, he was helped by Art of Living volunteers who got him immediate medical attention. They ran around, trying to arrange for a simple cup of tea and a blanket for him. Too weak to even hold the cup, Malvika and Swati fed him the biscuits and tea. Having lost all his belongings, Ram Kumar didn't even have slippers on his feet. As we all searched around for some footwear, Surya, one of the volunteers, highly moved by the incident quietly slipped his own slippers onto Ram Kumar's feet and working barefoot was of little concern to him at that moment.
While the challenges continue, the selfless spirit of service that the IAF and The Art of Living volunteers, along with many others is commendable. These recue-teams in North India is defining the acts of humanity in times of crisis.
Dehradun, 26 June, 12.09 pm
As more and more people are evacuated from the affected areas, The Art of Living volunteers spread out into different areas of the state to reach out to people. The number of volunteers was more than 250.
As Savita Devi stepped out of the chopper that had rescued her from Gaurikund, she was received by Prachi, The Art of Living volunteer. Hailing from Gorakhpur, Savita Devi had lost not only all her belongings but also 35 members of the group travelling with her, including her husband and children. As she unburdened her heart, Prachi sat listening patiently. Left with no money, the volunteers' team made sure she not only received medical care but also arranged her travel arrangements.
Several survivors wept gratefully as The Art of Living volunteers received them, helping them to connect with their families.
Satendra Kumar, mistakenly brought to Dehradun while the rest of his party was sent to Uttarkashi, wept tears of gratitude as Mohit, another volunteer, spent one and a half hours trying to connect him to his family.
In a similar effort, Nishagra, who is leading the team at Guptakashi, identified 235 local families who have lost all sources of livelihood, with the help of the local administration. Leading this unique initiative, Nishagra has made sure that they have adequate supplies of food and all other essentials before the monsoons set in again.
The team have been receiving calls from hundreds of people around the world, eager to join this effort. This show of humanness and strength in the face of adversity is truly overwhelming!
While several organisations have joined in to provide relief material, the Art of Living volunteers are adding the much-needed human touch. With a kind word, a loving touch and a warm embrace the team provides not only food but also some solace to the trauma struck souls of the survivors.
Dehradun, 25 June, 7:56 am
Although the route from Gauchar, from where survivors are expected to arrive soon, still remains blocked, our team in Srinagar, led by Dr Monika and Dr Harish, has set up a medical and relief camp there. As soon as survivors start arriving, they are greeted by a really well-equipped Art of Living camp. This camp will not only provide much-needed medical care but also food, rest facilities and even personal attention to ensure that they are connected to their near and dear ones as soon as possible. Further, the team from Srinagar is also working two hours every evening to help clear debris from Shakti Vihar area.
Another team of 8 people that left yesterday for Dharasu with five truckloads of relief material will set up a similar medical and relief camp there.
The team set up in Guptakashi is already helping people stuck there. Although roads in some of the affected areas are getting blocked due to the rain, our volunteers are ready to handle any eventuality.
Due to bad weather, relief and evacuation sorties by choppers have been temporarily halted, our team at the Jolly Grant airport is ready to help the authorities as soon as work resumes.
While enough food and relief material has been sent here by several organizations and our own team from The Art of Living, the team urges all concerned people to build up the funds so that these resources can be used to rebuild the lives of local villagers who have lost not only their homes but also all sources of livelihood.
The Art of Living volunteers, eager to help, have been calling from all over the country offering to come and help with the ongoing work. Although rain plays spoilsport here, the spirit of the volunteers remains unhampered!
Dehradun, June 24, 7:22 am
In a very productive day yesterday, The Art of Living volunteers were able to reach out to thousands of affected people.
Medical camps set up in Srinagar by Dr Monika, Dr Vyas and Dr Harish provided round-the-clock medical aid to hundreds of evacuees.
10,000-15,000 people are expected to be evacuated from these areas in the next 2-3 days. Despite heavy rains and landslides on the way, the team has gone ahead and set up a camp in Gauchar. The team has reached Gauchar with three truckloads of supplies donated by The Art of Living teachers and volunteers from Saharanpur.
A camp in Guptakashi under the lead of Nishagra and his team is also providing aid and relief material to patients in a make-shift hospital that has been set up there. Three more truckloads of supplies have been sent this morning for providing further help.
The members of the organization from all over the country are reaching out to help. Several volunteers from Jalalabad, Faridkot, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Moradabad, and Bangalore have reached here to offer their support.
A team of 15 volunteers will be leaving from Dehradun today with seven truckloads of supplies to set up a new camp in Dharasu.
In addition, the volunteers have been working non-stop at the Jolly Grant airport, helping the IAF (Indian Air Force) and Disaster Management teams in rescue work. Yesterday, the airport was only open to The Art of Living volunteers as nobody else was allowed inside for security reasons. At the end of the day, the team was lauded by the Public Relation Officer (PRO) of the IAF for their rescue efforts.
Weather forecasts predict heavy rainfall again in Uttarakhand in the next 48 hrs yet the volunteers are determined to keep the work going.
Dehradun, June 23, 9:30 pm
Inaccessible to anyone, the Jolly Grant Airport (the air-force base) was opened up for The Art of Living volunteers to proceed with the relief work. The volunteers who have been doing continuous dispatch work of food and water, also went an extra mile in helping people find their estranged family members. They are reported to have been present with the evacuees at the hospitals.
In an extra effort, the volunteers have also been arranging transport for the lost crowd to be sent back to their hometowns as far as Kota, Gorakhpur, Bhopal and more.
Medical camp set up by The Art of Living doctors has been working round the clock helping hundreds of pilgrims coming down from Badrinath.
Our volunteers worked ceaselessly yesterday in tandem with the para-military forces, the IAF and the disaster management teams to help dispatch hundreds of tonnes of relief material to the affected areas. Several hundred people were evacuated via choppers from Badrinath and Kedarnath regions and Art of Living volunteers were at the forefront in providing much-needed care and attention. In fact, the enthusiasm and energy of Art of Living volunteers was so apparent that at the end of the long and tiring day, the disaster management team and the armed forces highly applauded our work.
Art of Living devotees from all over the country have been calling us to help with relief supplies and volunteers. Trucks full of food material are reaching Dehradun from Saharanpur, Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Chandigarh today. These will be dispatched soon to our Art of Living camps set up in Gauchar and Guptakashi.
Weather conditions have again turned bad here but despite the rain the Art of Living team has already begun work here since 5 am.
Art of Living volunteers reached the Jolly Grant Airport at 5 am and started loading operations. Volunteers helped to load nine IAF choppers that are now out for air-dropping. Weather permitting, people will also be rescued from there.
The Art of Living Dehradun chapter has already sent one truck of supplies along with four volunteers to Guptakashi this morning.
More volunteers are needed in Gauchar since that is going to be the base for rescue operation from Badrinath. However, all this work will happen only in the next three-four days. Volunteers who are interested to come should come immediately.
An official from the Disaster Management department informed some of the volunteers that several villages have been wiped out and there has been tremendous loss of life and property. He opines that after the immediate relief work is over, the focus should be on building shelters for the locals. The focus so far has been only on rescuing pilgrims. But in the future locals need to be helped too.
In an initiative to provide immediate relief to the evacuees of the calamity-struck Uttarakhand, The Art of Living volunteers have been deployed at the city's Jolly Grant Airport at 4 am early this morning.
As part of the relief-work, the volunteers have distributed 5,000 food-packets, so far, to the people who reached the airport safely through the helicopters. "We have been here since morning.There are many organizations sending relief material, but there is no one to distribute it. Our volunteers along with the Indian army are undertaking this job to provide the evacuees with water and food," said Shweta Golani, Coordinator, Flood-Relief Work, Uttarakhand.
Around 150 people have reached the airport through helicopters, roughly 25-30 people per round. There are 30 Art of Living rescue-volunteers managing all the distribution work at the airport. "Focusing on supporting the trauma-struck people, we have raised Rs. 2 lakh in a day's time," she said, adding further, "We are giving healing and conducting trauma-relief meditation for the evacuees too, who are reaching the airport as a transit before they move ahead for their hometowns."
The rescue work by the Indian armed forces is on, via choppers and roads too. Badrinath roads have been opened because of the settled weather. "However, the forecast does not look very favourable after two days. We have to accomplish the rescue task as soon as possible before the weather turns bad," she informs.
Many more volunteers and initiatives are expected to come forth in providing aid in the flood-affected area."I urge more volunteers to come forward for the Uttarakhand relief work," Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tweeted, encouraging people to help in this hour of need.
Scale of the disaster:
On 16th June, a cloud burst in the state affected Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Tehri districts. This triggered massive flooding and landslides, wiping off entire towns, roads, buildings and population. The region has various pilgrimage places and they are visited by millions of pilgrims. The entire area is now buried under 6-8 feet of slurry. According to Government of India, the death toll is currently at 10,000. The State Chief Minister says, "We will never know the exact figures." In the absence of roads, it was difficult to reach people who ran to the forest areas to save themselves. This resulted in thousands of people dying out of starvation and extreme weather after the cloudburst as well. Rescue-operations became extremely difficult and so the rescue-team had to airlift those stranded with a large fleet of choppers. About 100,000 have been rescued so far. The Economic Times mentioned that a total of 3,978 villages lost connectivity. So far, connectivity has been temporarily restored in 2,375 habitations while the rest are still marooned. As many as 658 villages remain in darkness and at least 744 roads, of the 1,636 damaged, have still to be rebuilt. Among other essential services hit, at least 237 drinking water schemes have been damaged.
- High risk of epidemic because of dead bodies decomposing.
- The roads are damaged, therefore can't be used for transportation. Many areas are not accessible even by miles. Therefore, it is difficult to send the relief-materials to these areas.
- Getting storage places/space is a problem to store relief materials. Because of the bad weather conditions and space crunch, sometimes the relief-materials get wet.
- In the upper terrain, it is difficult to find places to house volunteers.
- Also, due to bad weather conditions, volunteers are also not able to move in upper stream.
- Because of no electricity and network connectivity, communication is a problem.
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,
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Ph- +91 9342540105
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