A month after the flooding of the Auranga river in the city of Valsad, Gujarat, that upturned lives and destroyed hundreds of homes across the region, members of RC Valsad, RID 3060, “are still there, working with other Rotary clubs and NGOs to provide comfort and support to those in need. This is a challenging situation, and we are working closely with the local administration to provide relief,” says Swati Shah, the club president. But she admits that the road to total recovery is indeed long. The club has spent close to `12 lakh on the relief efforts and helped nearly 8,000 people affected by the floods.
More than 400 people were evacuated from the low-lying areas, and “club members helped them by providing a place to stay, food, relief supplies and some members even sat down and consoled those crying uncontrollably to give them emotional support. We served them piping hot tea and biscuits while we assessed the situation,” she says. The club also made a list of prescription medications, spectacles, wheelchairs, and other medical equipment left behind by the devastated citizens in the rush to get to safety. “These were essential things that they needed and we made the necessary arrangements,” she adds.
Rotarians distributed 6,000 food packets, 2,000 biscuit packets, 800 packs of dry snacks, and 6,000 litres of drinking water in six places around Valsad that were worst hit by the flood. A survey was done to identify families that needed food supplies urgently. In association with Reliance Foundation and the Rotaract Club of Valsad, the club distributed coupons for ration kits that included rice, dal, oil, wheat flour, tea, sugar and spices. On the first day, 558 kits were distributed at Hanuman Bhagda and Kashmir Nagar followed by 500 kits to the people of Vavfaliya Abrama and Vejalpore villages near Valsad.
When the rainwater receded there grew a need for other necessities like blankets, mats and clothes. Members pitched in again and arranged 300 washable mats, 600 blankets and mosquito nets. RCs Surat Tapi and Vapi helped the club donate saris to 400 women. Swati says “one beneficiary was so overwhelmed that she could barely find the words to thank me, as she told me that the floods had taken away all they owned, leaving them just with the clothes they were wearing and that they hadn’t changed their saris in three days. It was a humbling experience.”
Students in Valsad who had lost their study material in the floods received raincoats, geometry boxes, notebooks and textbooks. PDG Dr Nilax Mufti, and Rotarian doctors Dhara Ashra and Mitesh Modi led a series of health camps throughout Valsad following a spike in the incidence of fever, flu, diarrhoea and dengue cases. Over 500 people were screened at the camps and patients were given medicines.
Help for students
RC Valsad paid the outstanding fees of students who could not afford to pay their final term fees. “These students wanted to join government schools to continue their education but, weren’t able to get their TCs because of the outstanding amount. We identified and paid the fees for nine such students,” says Nirali Gajjar, the club secretary. A total amount of `30,500 was spent to help these students. Recently the club distributed 55 bicycles to underprivileged students.