Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I wrote this a couple of days ago, soon after my visit to a relief camp in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.

To begin with we raised a total of Rs.1,09,000 which was divided among two relief camps- for the riot and flood victims. Some people also donated stationary for children which include notebooks, pencils and crayons. With the money collected we purchased 500 saris and lungis for the people. Some people had also donated medicines. These were handed over to the local Red Cross authorities. Besides, some families were also given small amounts of cash to sustain them for some time.

When I entered the riot victims relief camp, there wasn't much more than a dilapidated YMCA building filled to the brim with 700 people. These people had been displaced from their houses in the riots.

As I handed out stationary to the children, an over whelming sense of despair came over me. I haven't seen o much misery in one place. The more relief mater we distribute, the more inadequate we felt. We sent back many children empty handed. There wasn't enough. I doubt there ever would be.

They were all Christians by conversion. Several of them who could speak hindi asked us if we were hindus. I asked myself the same question. I don't know your views of conversion. But there are times when it ceases to matter anyway.

I saw women with new born babies in their arms. Children with what I can only assume were chicken pox scabs. The government provides food grains and water. Nothing more. No education, no sanitation, no work. We met many offcials and heard many excuses. But none can compensate for the little girl who didn't get an eraser or a sharpener.

The horror stories are many and varied. All I can do now is to just send a prayer to whichever god is allowed to exist in our world and hope it gets better. I thank you once again for being a part of my experience.

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