A Flood of Feel-Good!

School-children in a small town of Mahoba district, Bundelkhand, start off their own relief funds drive in aid of Kerala flood victims.

For a while now, the general mood in the Bundelkhand region has been one of the two –discontent grumbling at the increasing unemployment or impassioned calls for a new government or, even, bifurcation. Long ignored by the various governments that have come and gone both in the state and at the centre, this is an area marked by rampant illegal mining and acute corruption, leading to a debilitating economy and an impoverished population desperate for some respite. However, this time, it was not the disgruntled Bundelkhand citizens that had stirred up a storm in UP’s Mahoba district. Instead, it was a group of school children who had come together to do their bit in helping those whose lives have been turned upside down by the floods in Kerala.

The students of Saraswati Shishu Mandir school in Kulpahad in Mahoba have launched a fundraising campaign across the district for the flood victims of Kerala. With assistance from their teachers as well as the other school staff, they organised themselves into groups and marched across the district raising the slogan, “Madad karo! Madad karo!” They are urging the adults to not only contribute money but also join the children in their efforts in helping those in need.

Declared the worst floods to have ever hit the country – with red alerts declared in twelve out of fourteen districts in the state – the Kerala floods last month have left the state in utter devastation and despair. More than 300 people have been reported dead and lakhs injured and displaced as the situation fast reaches calamitic proportions. By mid-August itself, governments estimates showed ten lakh people to have registered at the 5000 relief camps established in and around the state, while economic losses were estimated at 20,000 crore rupees.

In this hour of need, no kind of assistance, financial or otherwise, is too little or too small. Innumerable donation drives and fundraising campaigns have been taken up across the country. One of the outstanding stories of compassion and heroism is that of the fishermen community of Kerala. Even before any help could reach the state from the government or any other relief organisations, they had set off into the flood-ravaged state with their boats in hand – rescuing people and helping out wherever they could.

Moreover, in addition to relentless efforts by the government of Kerala as well as the 600 crore rupees assistance granted by the Centre, other state governments have also joined hands to help rebuild the state’s infrastructure and give assistance to the victims in relief camps. What’s more, the UAE government had also offered financial assistance of USD 600 million considering the large number of expatriates who move to the UAE from Kerala in hopes of better employment opportunities.

The children of Mahoba seem to be answering the call of duty of a good Samaritan. It is extremely heartening to see children as young as eight years old showing such concern and compassion for a people and a cause far removed from their everyday reality. The sight of them dressed smartly in their uniforms, lined up and passionately calling for help can bring tears to one’s eyes. We asked Rohit – seemingly the eldest in the group and thus the leader as well, “The people stuck in Kerala are having to face extreme hardships daily, they are not even getting food or water for 5-6 days at a stretch. This is why we have come together to help them in whatever way we can. Our campaign has been going on for two days. The girls did it yesterday and we boys are doing it today. Once the money is collected, we shall transfer it to the victims with the help of the bank.”

The adults of Mahoba are both impressed and awed by the thoughtfulness of the children. Jamuna Prasad, tells us how moved he was to see such young children come out so strongly for a noble cause like this. “There about 100-150 of them, small kids less than ten years of age. They urged us to contribute – they wanted to do their little bit to help. And we happily agreed, we all helped them in this thoughtful initiative of theirs. We helped them in collecting funds, and even met journalists and government employees to take their help as well.”

Vinod Kumar Sharma, another Kulpahad resident, rightly observed that the children of Mahoba have set an example for the adults and everyone else to follow. “What we adults could not even think of doing, these children have done it!

 

This Khabar Lahariya article first appeared on Firstpost.