Sunday, February 13, 2005

Tsunami revisited

I chanced upon a couple of pieces written by one of my friends who had been part fo a relief team in Nagapattinam...pretty soon after the disaster happened...and she has written briefly on what she saw...

This is the first piece:

When u strongly feels about doing something, there is nothing better than doing it. Right?

And that’s exactly why I went to nagapattinam this past weekend with a Relief Team.

The risk factor might have been slightly high with the fear of Epidemics and Communicable diseases. But then If i can survive in the onslaught of traffic in Bangalore, any danger of epidemic is as good as a distant reality.

In any case the team was well equipped in terms of Preventive measures and stuff. On top of that we were administered preventive shots on reaching Nagapattinam.

Let me get into the issues that prompted me to write in this dissertation.

In a place like nagapattinam, when u think of relief work and relief workers u would imagine people working diligently for a cause for which they have already risked so much. Let me tell u, what i saw there was kinda revolting. Everybody seemed to be scampering for a share of glory, A fair amount of Publicity stunts, too many people involved in too little work, name it and u have it. The only grace point I could c in it was that atleast some work is being even if it is for Publicity. If I saw more cameras in a day than I have ever seen, I shouldn't b surprised. it was like every third person had a camera. Had there been a campaigning goin for some political posts, it wouldn't have been any different i guess.

let me leave it at that.

Before comin to activities of govt let me brief a bit abt NGOs and Rescue and Relief organizations. Even at a place where the stench of rotten flesh was crowding ur senses, they seemed to be working for their benefits.Almost No amount of coordination between them. If u find them conducting surveys in relief camps to provide/collect supplies accordingly, only to have duplication and triplication or any amount of multiplication of supplies all to go waste or to the wrong hands, dont go looking far for reasons. Its right here to c. In the end of it all they do their bit of Mud slinging too. Every group put blame on every other group. Oh my!!!!!!!!!! I thought we were all working for a single cause here.

Mayb I dont have any right to put blame on anyone 'coz what exactly am I doin about it anyway? So let me retire from the job of finding faults. Mayb I wasn't really finding faults. I was just making a few observations. In doin so, it would remain incomplete if I dont make a few on the presence or absence of Govt Machineries at the affected areas. It could be because of my ignorance about how Govt works in a Disaster hit area that i found the absence of Govt machineries, bewildering. I was saddened by the fact that there wasn't a central coordination/regulation mechanism even, in place to monitor the rescue and relief work happening. Mayb I am joining the junta which blames for anything and everything the Govt. But even a hard core fan of Govt would want to question the priorities and responsibilities of the govt. Because the performance of govt here was very poor.

Well, the significance of relief work will diminish in a week or two,once the immediate requirements have been taken care of. The need of the hour will be Rehabilitation work. The sooner it starts the better it will be for the surviving souls. At the face of a tragedy like this where in most of the survivors have lost every other family member, the only remaining emotion would be Indifference. People with no hope left in their life. People with nothin to look forward to. Staring at such a huge reality can become a pain on its own. If anything needs to be done, its restoring what they've lost. Help them weave a living starting from scratch or from what is left. Restore in them a bit of Hope. If people who really care can't do it, Who can??

Lot of things still remains unsaid. But writing it wouldn't suffice. If I can't do much about what I am talking about, I guess I should shut up. Because I'm of the opinion that If I want to talk against anything I should EARN the right to.

I'll sign off here.

One thing to be Noted: All what I've written should be seen more as views than as facts. I might have missed some hidden truths. Looks could have been deceptive. I am not arguing on that

And the second...what she calls the sequel...

No Write up on What I saw in Nagapattinam would be complete without adding a bit on what I understood of the plight of the living, left behind by the Tsunami.

Most of the people grieving the dead is also grieving the fact that they were left behind to continue with life. Having lost everything else, the eyes of the distressed conveyed the plight of helplessness. Numb from the tragedy, not knowing whether to cry or just be indifferent. Just looking lost.....Let me not sound like narrating a tragic Drama.

But life can became weirder than Drama itself.

The people there, most of whom were living a dignified life until now, men with self respect, are denied the same by the self-proclaimed saviours, who will henceforth claim holding all responsibility for their futures... (not even the calamity did so much injustice to them...)

Are we doing the right thing by pursuing with relief activities even after the men and women involved have got into their second week of life in a relief camp?

Try imagining a situation like this for ourselves. Wherein we lose ur loved ones ,our lifes earnings and everything in a span of 10-20minutes? I shudder to think. I tell you, these people who became victims to the nature's fury were no different either. Most of them belonged to middle class to upper middle class families earning more than most of us earn everyday. Now that nature have rendered them helpless, with nothing to look forward to, the world round up on them in the name of relief. Had we been in a similar situation we would have had something to tell to the people coming down on us with relief, something very commonly said around in a metropolitan life "Get Lost". Here the men and women involved are deprived even of the privilege to say that. All they ask for is a little space for themselves. A little world of their own. Had they been in any position to tell us anything, I guess they would have told us how better off they were before nature decided to intervene.

Do we really care? Do we care enough to see their miseries from their side.Putting it another way, Are we capable of showing empathy rather than sympathy.

If we are we should be putting our heart into rebuilding a life for them. Restoring a means of living to them. Will we be able to help them regroup their lives without having to carry the brunt of being dependent? From now on Rehabilitation should be the watch word.

Why can't we all win together? Is it always necessary for somebody to fail, if one has to win?

A small note on the minors of the world before I end this piece of mine. The Children. Many a children have been orphaned by the monster that lashed out on that morning. Though the minors they are after all the light of the world. Is there anything we can do about them?? Spare a moment to think..

A couple of articles which make a lot of sense...the author of these articles is my good friend Annie who works at Wipro in Bangalore and also does a LOT of social work...she can be reached at annie.john@wipro.com...Feel free to send in any feedback to her directly...

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