AILA – Cyclone Relief Work – 2009

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

Disaster strikes Bengal

Cyclone Aila hit West Bengal and Bangladesh on 25 May 2009. By the time it dissipated a day later, 330 people were dead, more than 8,000 were missing and one million were homeless. Between Indian and Bangladesh, damages exceeded US $40 million.

Amma’s AILA Relief Work

Volunteers of Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM), Kolkata, immediately began relief work, with doctors from Amrita Institute of Medical Science (AIMS) in Kochi, Kerala, flying to Kolkata on 29th May. A medical camp commenced on 30th May in the village of Maipith Naginabad (South 24 Parganas District, West Bengal).

The camps were conducted for a total of 10 days, with the doctors treating approximately 3,000 people, dispensing more than one-lakh rupees worth of free medicine (US $2,080). MAM volunteers also distributed approximately 800 pieces clothing and blankets, served 6,000 FREE meals and gave away two tons of rice.

Brahmachari Sadashiva Chaitanya, the monastic in charge of the Cyclone Aila relief work said:

The cyclone had destroyed the entire village. Even the roads were destroyed. We had to unload our supplies and shift them into small trolleys and also carry them as on top of our heads in some places in order to reach the village school. In fact, in Maipith Naginabad the school was the only building still standing.

Another camp was conducted in a remote tribal village named Deulbari Debipur, deep in the Sundarbans Jungle (infamous for Bengal tigers). Brahmachari Sadashiva said:

Deulbari was only accessible by boat. The roads had been totally washed away leaving only deep gorges in their place.
In Deulbari, the doctors had to treat several people with severe dehydration. We had to hang the saline bottles from pillars on the veranda in order to treat all the people. Soon they all stabilized and were able to return home.

Unfolding Relief Work

Brahmachari Sadashiva Chaitanya has written candid descriptions about how the relief work for cyclone AILA started, the obstacles faces and how they were overcome. Please follow the links to see how the relief aid reached the needy from the view point of those who dared to go out into the field to serve the needy.

The villagers were really touched by the selfless service replete with love rendered by the volunteers of Amma’s Kolkata ashram under the guidance of Br. Sadashiva Chaitanaya. Manik, age 33, of Maipith Naginabad, said:

We’ve never received help like this before. Cyclones come from time to time. During such calamities groups will visit us for a day or two, give something and go away. No group before has stayed so long, cooked for us and fed us with so much love.

When the volunteer work was concluded on 7th June, two village youth, Gautam and Prasad, expressed their desire to one day come to work as volunteers for Amma’s humanitarian activities. May God grant their honest and sincere desires :).

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