A woman being rescued from her house in Chennai, India.
My family lives in a low-lying area in Chennai, and we are, unfortunately, in the direct line of the reservoir’s outflow. We have been deeply affected by the #ChennaiFloods of 2015.
I’ve listened to to my son’s pleas to go back to his school which has been rained out for over a month. I have been heartbroken and in shock from the news of the many who have died around us from the floods. Helicopters overhead have dropped off supplies to my mother’s neighborhood. It began with a cyclone, and now the floods of Chennai, India have left the region where we live, in a crisis.
The school of the photographer’s daughter and buses under water in Chennai due to extreme flooding.
It was a wrong call. The people keep on saying this over and over again. In the newspapers. In social media. Chennai has had the highest rains in 100 years, but that is not what has caused our city’s problems. Lapses and error in human judgement, unplanned and predatory city development, high rise buildings on dried up river and lake beds, clogged drain water pipes, and a very poor civic administration are what led to our current catastrophe.
And the reservoirs and dams were opened up at the wrong time. This was a disgrace!
Sedimentary debris left behind by flood waters in Chennai, India.
The government had adequate warning from the weather department, but failed to respond in time. Who is responsible for this? One person’s bad judgment or that of one state government department led to this event which has been called a national disaster and crisis. Over 500 are dead, as bodies are still being recovered from receding waters, with over 1.8 million people losing their homes and possessions, and a net worth loss of $3 billion to the Indian Economy.
My city, fondly called Singara Chennai (Beautiful Chennai) in my native Tamil language, has now been aptly called Sink-aagara Chennai (Sinking Chennai) all over Social Media.
Dead bodies are covered as women mourn. Over 500 people have lost their lives in the Chennai Flood.
The damage is colossal. I am still numb reading and listening to accounts of dead bodies emerging from receding waters and closed highways because of the river in spate. Then there was the opening of Chennai International Airport after a long closure, the naval war ships coming to rescue people from the Chennai seaport, reported deaths in hospitals because of power outages, and the dead piling up and decomposing. Pregnant women were being airlifted from high rise apartments.
During all this, there was just this crazy thought in our hearts as parents, that our son should survive this.
It is our hope that our son survives all this mess, the bureaucracy, and live in a beautiful, safe world.
A helicopter evacuates a person who needs medical care in Chennai, India.
On the night of the reservoir opening up, we went over to our neighbour’s place in the first floor (in India the first floor is above the ground floor), because of the fear of flood waters entering our homes on the ground floor. It was with great pain that we left our home (for a single night), which we had built with all of our love and life savings, at a time when we had nowhere else to go. It was far too emotional.
I thought, it’s not the floods, not the waters, not being left homeless or penniless, but it is this great fear in our hearts of the questions. “What life are we leaving for our son? How are we leaving the earth, for all generations to come? What is happening with humanity right here, before our eyes? How did we, as a community, allow this to happen?”
Yes, the deluge of rain was unforeseen, an act of nature – but Chennai was left unprepared for it.
Left unprepared, because of the subconscious feelings and acts of violence, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, in the hearts of men. Left unprepared, because of the bending of rules and flouting of norms in the name of development of urban land. Left unprepared, because of the nonchalance on the part of governmental officials in the event a flood warning is issued. Left unprepared, because of the switching off of phones of the city police officers for emergency call-ins. I could go on.
We have watched apocalyptic movies like “2012″ and “Independence Day.” And, this week, we found ourselves living it.
As we waded through the flood waters to our neighbour’s place on the first floor, my son jokingly said, “Is this how it was like, for Noah, during the great biblical flooding?” We all humored him and laughed with a pain in our hearts.
A school library in Chennai that was wrecked by the flooding.
I keep my head up and continue with the strenth of these words from a speech given by my spiritual friend, Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachri. It is almost a year since he passed on, but his legacy and love, lives on in Heartfulness Meditation, which he has left behind.
“We have a duty to our race (human beings); We have a duty to the world. We are not just nationalistic, which is very narrow. We are responsible for the universe. One problem in Japan – the tsunami, a problem with their atomic [power] generator and the whole world is shivering. Which wind will blow what towards us? A flu somewhere, and everybody is sick; at all airports there are tests. Today, it is not your country or my country – it is my world. Anything happening anywhere can affect us. Bomb blasts in Mumbai. “Oh, But I am in Chennai.” Where next?
It all stems from the violence in the individual mind of every one of us here. We have violent thoughts. We have thoughts of acquisition, of greed, of power. Our politicians lead the country in this mad race towards destruction. We follow. They want votes based on religion, we are willing. “Who will vote for me?” So in the newspapers you find suddenly the Muslims are pampered, they are given special facilities – for the Muslim vote. In another area, it is the Christian vote. Nobody talks of the genuine vote, the legal vote, the moral vote – and we are prey to all of them.”
“The Veda (ancient sanskrit scriptures) says, let only noble thoughts come to me from everywhere in the universe (aa no bhadraah kratavo yantu vishvatah).”
“Always look at the heart whenever you are afraid, whenever you are going off track. Babuji Maharaj always said, “Don’t trust this head. It is only a thinking thing. It will give you information. It cannot tell you what is right or wrong. When you are in doubt, refer to the heart.”
The heart never misleads. The heart always tells you the right thing to do. It is way beyond morals, ethics and judgements. It always tells you how to go about peace, love and joy. The heart is the way. We could have done better. We MUST do better.
As a parent, as a mother, as a human being, I want to leave behind a just world where serenity and tranquility prevails.
This is an original post from our UNCA Award Winning World Mom and Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan.
Her contributions to World Moms Blog can be found here.
Photo credits to Savitha, Purnima’s sister-in-law.
Last week, South Carolina experienced the worst flooding is has seen in 1,000 years. World Mom, Sophia, shares her search for clean water after the storm last week…
Today the National Guard had two posts at which troopers were giving out clean water bottles by the case. As I prepared to go get some of this water, I thought of the safest, most effective and expeditious way of getting through the line of people waiting.
Would there be a truck at which troopers would be handing out the cases? Would there just be a group of us standing there with no adhered-to order, or would there be a line? How could I carry more than one case back to my car? I surely couldn’t get to the front of the line (or group) more than once… Maybe I should take the stroller, and put as many cases of water on it as I could take. (more…)
As an Indian, writing about the #NepalEarthquake today, I have to share a few interesting facts about the Indo-Nepal relationship. An Indian National does not need a VISA to travel to Nepal, and an Indian National does not need even a passport to enter Nepal.
An Indian National only needs some sort of ID card on him to show that he is in an Indian National. And then he is free to come and go.
That is the level of friendship, comradeship, and mutual trust and confidence the countries have on each other. It is just like traveling to another state within India.
It was a great shock to hear about the earthquake on Saturday April 25th. On this date, Nepal was hit by earthquake of a 7.8 magnitude that has killed over 7000 people. The death toll is unfortunately estimated to increase up to 10,000 as rescue efforts span out to remote regions of the epicentre. Nepal has experienced over 50+ aftershocks of 4.5 magnitudes or higher after the initial earthquake.
The injured are in need of desperate medical attention. Countless have lost their homes and are on streets in need of food, water, and medical supplies.
Buildings collapsed in Siliguri, North India
I was traveling in North India when I learned about the #NepalEarthquake. Some parts of Delhi, Lucknow, Bihar (all in India) felt the tremors and aftershocks. At least 60 people were killed in North India and more than 100 injured during this period. I frantically checked for all my friends in North India and Nepal. I even got a call from my friend and fellow World Mom, The Human Rights Warrior, Jennifer Prestholdt to help contact the school in Nepal that her organization works closely with. Major telecom provider #Airtel had made all calls free from India to Nepal. You can read her story about when she finally got the news she was hoping for, and when she read the text message “All our SPCS family r safe,” from Anoop Poudel, headmaster at the Sankhu-Palubari Community School (SPCS) in Nepal.
Aftermath and rubble
Indian government’s Operation Maitri (meaning friendship) aptly called so, has started helping within 15 minutes of the earthquake.
Organizations like Save the Children, Red Cross, UNICEF, WFP and Care are on the ground with supplies and volunteers. These organizations have teams on the ground and are the most capable in immediate rescue and relief work.
1. Save the Children
Save the Children is an international charity that has been in Nepal since 1976. In fact, when the earthquake hit, there were nearly 500 of their aid workers, mostly Nepalese, on the ground who were already doing work in the area. This was a great help when there were difficulties with the airport at first, according to Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. Also, 10% of funds are going to preparations for future disasters. You can donate to their Nepal Earthquake Children’s Relief Fund.
2. Red Cross
The Red Cross has committed an initial $300,000 of aid as well as 19,000 non-food relief kits. You can donate to the Red Cross Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.
3. Global Giving
Online fund-raising platform Global Giving is running a project to raise $1,000,000 for disaster relief in Nepal and has raised over $570,000 so far.
To make a donation, visit Global Giving here. If you have a U.S. cell phone, you can text GIVE NEPAL to 80088 to make a $10 donation.
4. Friends Service Council Nepal
FSCN is a Nepalese NGO with over 20 years of experience in supporting disaster relief efforts for disasters in Nepal. If you want to give directly to a local charity, get in contact and a volunteer will explain how best to transfer money to them.
Oxfam, which works in more than 90 countries, has already dispatched technical experts from the U.K. to Nepal.
To make your donation to Oxfam’s relief effort, go here.
Goonj is an Indian relief agency with 11 offices and more than 300 employees. Currently, Goonj is readying two trucks of relief material to transfer to Nepal, with more urgent supplies going by air. For more information about how to donate, visit their website.
Additionally, you could also consider donating at the following links/websites.
Sarvodaya USA: Which is a Madison, WI based non-profit organization. They have done some good work in Nepal and Sri Lanka. They now have volunteers helping in relief work.
World Food Program
Global Outreach Doctors
There are local organizations that are on ground taking care of the survivors and injured. If you wish to make contributions to these organizations, please visit their website below.
Nepal ko Yuwa
And you could contribute too, in other ways, by sending your prayers, thoughts of love, unity and world brotherhood to all of them affected there, the survivors and the long passed souls. Let us pray for some peace.
This is an original post from our World Mom and Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan.
Her contributions to World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog.
Photo credit to Krish Dulal Creative Commons, Deccan Chronicle, Maps of India, European pressphoto Agency.
Article has been written with inputs from author’s friend having close ties with relatives on field in Nepal, Time.com and local Indian TV News channels.
Today was the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which pummeled the east coast of the United States. Whether our #WorldMoms are reporting on Hurricane Sandy in the U.S.; Typhoon Typhoon Bopha or Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; or the Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand, globally, we are interconnected and have become very aware of the risk of natural disaster.
We are thankful that our friends from Save the Children tap us on the shoulder and remind us to share information with our global community about keeping our kids safe in the event of a disaster every year. Family Check List? Reunification Plan? We are busy helping with homework, changing diapers, researching universities, and we appreciate this much needed reminder!
This video really hits home. How do we know how to reunify with our children in the even disaster struck while they were at school? What is the school’s reunification plan? Have you asked for it?
TIP!: Not feeling in the mood to prepare today? Here is something to watch NOW to get you in the mood:
TIP!: Tomorrow night at dinner, go over this Disaster Check List with your family!
TIP!: #WorldMoms, Take the Pledge!
I pledge to protect children.
I will learn how to keep my kids and children in my community safe in emergencies.
I will share this information with my friends and family.
And I will take action to prepare my home and community.
I appeal to my government to take action, too.
So when disaster strikes, together we’ll be ready and our children can be safe.
Head on over to Save the Children for more information, and to sign up to take the pledge!
We may remember to go for our annual mammogram or OB visit, but let’s not forget the annual check-in for our strategy to protect our little ones if disaster strikes. Join me in printing out that checklist, #WorldMoms!
Do you have any tips for our community about being prepared in the event of emergency? Please share them with us!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden, of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to Save the Children.
State of the Worlds Mothers Report Cover Photo By Phil Moore
The 15th annual State of the World’s Mothers Report was released last week by Save The Children, just in time for Mother’s Day, and World Moms Blog was there at the launch. The focus of the 2014 report is on saving mothers in humanitarian crisis, and the launch of the report in New York City was co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations. In his welcome address to the room Permanent Representative H.E. Mr. Libran Cabactulan of the UN Mission of the Philippines acknowledged from first hand experience, that women and children suffer the most in crisis situations.
The report notes that worldwide women and children are up to 14 times more likely than men to die in disaster. In fact it is no surprise that also according to the report more than half of all maternal and child deaths world-wide take place in countries suffering conflict or natural disasters. As Werner Obermeyer, Deputy to the Executive Director of the WHO office to the UN stated, It is not the armed component in conflicts we are worried about, it’s those who are suffering from the armed component.
The purpose of the annual report is to further the mission of Save The Children in protecting the worlds most vulnerable mothers and children. The State of the World’s Mothers report does so by highlighting where we are failing, what effective solutions need to be put in place, and recommended policy changes towards progress. Despite the fact that 80% of the countries are not on target for achieving MDG 4 and 5, maternal and child health goals, the extreme progress seen in other countries previously failing, tells us that it is possible.
Ethiopia for example has reduced its risk of maternal death more than any other African country, by nearly two-thirds. H.E. Mr. Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia stated that the progress there was due to a well crafted policy based on the participation of people on the local level. 48,000 health extension workers were fanned out throughout the country to mobilize women volunteers in what they called the Women’s Development Army to reach remote villages. Afghanistan has also cut maternal death rates by 60-70 percent, moving up 32 places on the Mothers’ Index Rankings of the best and worst countries in which to give birth. This proves that the combined investment of minds and funding works. If these countries with terrible track records have been able to make such significant improvements, there is no reason we can not see this type of progress universally with proper programs and support.
Photo Credit: Save The Children
Climate change is the wild card that threatens even the countries that have made the most progress in maternal and child health. Climate related disasters and extreme weather are factors that can cause severe set backs in development.
The recommendations of the report call for a collaboration between governments, donor countries, international organizations, private sector and civil society to take responsibility, and each do their part to ensure mothers, and children in crisis situations have the best chance to survive, and thrive. Here is what we need to do:
1. Ensure that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high quality health care
2. Invest in women and girls and ensure their protection
3. Build longer term resilience to minimize the damaging effects of crises on health.
4. Design emergency interventions with a longer term view and the specific needs of mothers and newborns in mind.
5. Ensure political engagement and adequate financing, coordination and research around maternal and newborn health in crisis settings.
Save The children’s 15th annual State of the Worlds Mothers report comes at a pivotal moment in history, when humanitarian crises have focused a spotlight like never before on the needs of mothers and children who are struggling to survive. With record numbers of people displaced by war and conflict and increasingly severe natural disasters causing unspeakable destruction, it is clear we must do more to help the worlds poorest and most vulnerable families. We must give mothers the support they need to keep their children safe and healthy, even in the darkest times. -Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save The Children USA
You can read the State of the Worlds Mothers report in full here. See where your country falls on the Mothers’ Index Rankings here.
World Moms Blog Founder Jennifer Burden and Senior Editor Elizabeth Atalay at the State of the Worlds Mothers report launch in NYC.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay of Documama.
There are just no words these days to describe what has happened to my beautiful country. I write this from the capital of Manila, which was spared the catastrophic effects of the world’s strongest recorded typhoon, Haiyan, which befell our country last November 8.
The most affected regions are in the Southern region, the Visayas. These islands comprise some of our top tourist destinations, and are home to some of the world’s most beautiful beach landscapes, including the famous Boracay island, Bohol, and Palawan, where we have several world heritage churches and protected coral reefs.
Today, we don’t know what will come of these cities, which have all been ravaged by nature’s cruelest storm to date.
Watching CNN is both helpful and heartbreaking. Helpful, because it keeps us attuned to what’s going on; heartbreaking, because the images they show slowly wear away at the human heart. Daily — sometimes by the hour — we receive more news about the worsening situations in the Southern Philippines.
Our country is in shock. I know it would be easy for some to blame our government, too, and not that I am a hundred percent in agreement with the way things are run, but I also believe our President and officials of the affected cities are in shock, too. The finger-pointing and guilt-tripping on social media disgusts me, to the point that I’ve sometimes stayed off for hours, just to filter out the negativism. (more…)