While many big NGOs and other philanthropist organizations with large setups and huge volunteers base are executing relief work in flood-hit Kerala state, a group of just seven youths from Punjab, aged 18-22 and mostly students, have not only managed to reach Kerala for relief work but has also sent three trucks of relief material after contacting office of MP Shashi Tharoor for help.
In Kerala since August 29, this team of youths from Punjab, including five from Ludhiana, is cleaning schools and homes in district Alappuzha (Alleppey) and also distributing relief material going door to door in boats.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gauravdeep Singh, 22, from Ludhiana who runs a small youth group ‘Initiators of Change’, said that till now they have cleaned two schools and six houses in Alappuzha. Also, relief material has been distributed to more than hundred homes.
“We did crowdfunding to collect three trucks of relief material but transporting it was a problem. So we contacted office of MP Shashi Tharoor who arranged transportation of relief material by train with help of Kerala House in Delhi. Then, our team of seven volunteers reached Kerala on August 29 and since then we have cleaned two schools, six houses and distributed relief material. Most of us are students and managing whatever we could through from our own pockets. We just wanted to come here anyhow and help Kerala,” he said.
While a private air carrier agreed to sponsor their tickets to reach Kerala, they are paying for their accommodation and other expenses. “We are still a very small organization with limited sources of help. We just saw a tweet by an airline company and it struck. We contacted them through mail expressing that we want to go Kerala and help people. They agreed to sponsor our tickets. For accommodation, we are paying Rs 600 per night for triple sharing rooms which makes it Rs 200 for each. That is all we could afford being students. Overall, each youth is spending Rs 5,000-6,000 on his own. Most of us are missing our school and college classes to be here. Another small group- Youngroots- is also a part of the mission,” he added.
In five days, this team of youths from Punjab, has repaired and cleaned six houses in Kuttanad of Alappuzha and distributed relief material including slippers, sanitary pads, toiletries and bed sheets to a hundred homes.
“We have cleaned two schools which were converted into relief camps so that education does not suffer and schools restart soon. Chinmaya Vidalaya Higher Senior Secondary School (Kalarcode) and government school in Kuttanad Lower have been cleaned along with a local government dispensary. Being a small team, we are just making an effort with whatever sources we had. Every effort counts,” said Gauravdeep.
The other volunteers include: Karan Aneja (19), Kartik Narang (18), Yashasvi Goswami (19), Deepak Rajak (18)- from Ludhiana and Nitish Saini (18) and Mehul Narang (18) from Patiala. Five local youths from Kerala are also a part of the team.