Cyclone Aila

Cyclone Aila, West Bengal, India (May 2009)

Within two hours of Cyclone Aila hitting the Sunderbans, Art of Living volunteers from West Bengal reached the affected areas. The initial two to three days were spent in extensive search and rescue operations as many of the fishing clan from the Sunderbans were stranded in remote parts of the islands. At the same time, trauma relief counselling was given to people who had already been rescued.

From different parts of India, funds and relief material started pouring in. Art of Living volunteers across the country, organised collection drives. Truckloads of medicines, clothes, food grains and milk powder were sent to the affected people in West Bengal. Medical aid was provided to over 5,200 people and clothing to over 2,600 people.

Trauma relief workshops were conducted at many locations: cyclone-hit classrooms, government-organised camps and in open fields. The victims were taught stress-elimination techniques that helped release trauma and shock from the disaster.

Medical camps, distribution of medicines and vaccines helped to restrict the spread of an epidemic. Estimates suggest that 90% of the victims were affected by diarrhoea and fever in the epidemic that followed the cyclone.