Bihar Flood Relief Work – 2008

Posted on 21. Jan, 2010 by in AmmaInBengal, DisasterRelief, Featured

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Disaster strikes Bihar

On August 18, 2008, the Kosi River broke through a man-made embankment in Nepal. The flooding was massive and engulfed half the neighboring state of Bihar in India. The prime minister declared it a state of national calamity.

According to the World Health Organization, 3.3 million people in 1,850 villages were affected, with one million rendered homeless. Crops were devastated, and there was no drinking water. In the worst-affected regions, only treetops were visible above the waterline.

Amma’s Relief Work in Bihar

On September 10, 2008, Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) began its Rs. 2 crore [$465,000 US] flood-relief program. Amma’s AIMS (Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences) Hospital dispatched teams of specialists and paramedics who treated more than 400 patients daily, sometimes seeing to more than 500. Not only did the doctors treat wounds, respiratory problems like pneumonia and fungal growths, they also delivered several babies.

Two state of the art ambulances from AIMS, Kochi

AIMS Hospital's Mobile Tele-Medicine Unit and an state of art ambulance from Amma's AIMS Hospital, Kochi

Two state-of-the art ambulances were sent to the area via rail from Kochi, in Kerala. They traveled a total of distance of almost 2,500 km to reach their destination in Bihar. One of the ambulances was AIMS Hospital’s Mobile Tele-Medicine Unit, which includes a X-ray facility, ECG scanner, pathology-lab-work facility, specialty cardiac services and a tele-medicine satellite link with AIMS Hospital.

Here is a snapshot of the tremendous relief work conducted by Amma’s brahmacharis from her ashrams in West Bengal, Kerala and AIMS Hospital:

» A temporary hospital was maintained in Supaul for one month. The medical team remained in Bihar for more than two months, treating 50,000 people through 100 medical camps. Rs. 30 lakh [US $70,000] in medicine was provided, as well as food, clothing and other necessities.

» At one point, when construction supplies were delayed, brahmacharis and MAM volunteers went to a nearby bamboo forest and fell, loaded and transported bamboo poles themselves. Having witnessed their dedicated actions, a journalist wrote in the next morning’s paper,

They do not depend on the facilities available to them. They get their work done by sheer will power.

» Bihar’s Minister for Labour, Avdesh Narain Singh, expressing his gratitude to MAM, said,

The people of MAM are working day and night to serve the flood victims. In fact, I wonder if they are even sleeping at night! We are very thankful to MAM for accepting our appeal and rushing to help us in this time of need.

» Monastic disciples led the teams.
– The first base camp was established in Purnia.
– Three temporary shelters for the homeless were quickly constructed in Bhawanipur.
– A second camp with four shelters was established in Laharniya, Supaul District.
The shelters in Purnia were completed on 16th September, and those in Supaul on 11th October. In total, 1,500 flood victims were housed in MAM shelters. Kitchens and toilets were also provided.

Unfolding Relief Work

Br. Sadashiv Chaitanya, Br. Nijamrita along with members of Amma’s relief team have written a candid description of Amma’s Flood Relief Efforts in Bihar which began in September 2008. Please follow the links to gaze into the tragedy as it unfolded from the view point of Amma’s relief workers. It’s amazing to see how Amma’s grace flowed through them and brought back smiles to faces of those who suffered in the disaster.

After three months and more, government officials started the second phase of the rehabilitation project. They took census of losses suffered by individual farmers, so that compensation could be granted under different heads. By this time, flood water had receded in most places. A majority of people returned to their villages. It’s heartening to know that they are now immersed in efforts to rebuild their lives.

Such a great effort in aid of humanity was made possible by Amma’s infinite compassion for her children all over the planet. Sashvat’s (volunteer) observation says it all:

…. I was standing behind Mother on a darshan day when She started talking to Brahmachari Nijamrita about Bihar and the flooding that was causing hundreds of thousands of people to be displaced from their homes. I had heard about it on TV and in the newspapers, so I was eager to see how Mother would react to the disaster. She wasted no time in making phone calls to Her Brahmacharis in different parts of India to make arrangements for aid relief in the affected areas. I was witnessing Her compassion first hand and felt blessed to see Her organize such a serious task whilst simultaneously giving Darshan ….

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