In view of unabated heavy rains and floods in Kerala from late July-August 2018, the Chancellor of the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma), has announced that Her organization Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) will donate Rs. 10 crores to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).
“Each day we see the rain just keeps coming. Each time it starts up again, we know it is causing more and more destruction. My heart goes out to those families who are losing their homes and dear ones. We want to help them in whatever way we can.” said Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma).
Apart from the Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s monetary donation, the Amrita Hospital sent out medical relief teams of doctors and paramedics who provided round-the-clock medical care, conducting dozens of medical camps in hard-to-reach areas and treating thousands of patients. Tele-medicine and ambulance vans accompanied them and were very helpful. Truckloads of food, drinking water, clothing and blankets were brought to relief camps as well as hard-to-reach areas.
In some places, the teams had to deliver service and medical assistance by boat as the areas were so deeply flooded. In the remote, hilly areas of Wayanad District, the teams had to hike in on foot to reach those in need.
Meanwhile, of the 40 Amrita Vidyalayam schools in the state, about 30 have become relief camps. They are providing shelter, food, clothing, toiletries and medical care. The Mata Amritanandamayi Math has also sent teams to coordinate the efforts. In areas where there is no Amrita Vidyalayam school nearby, ETW volunteers joined with other organizations running relief camps.
The AYUDH (Amrita Yuva Dharma Dhara) chapter at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri campus were absolutely integral to the relief efforts, collecting and distributing relief supplies, and organizing clean-up drives. When the flood started, the AYUDH chapter set up a 24X7 Compassionate Kerala Call Centre for Kerala Flood Relief and rescue operations on August 16th. Over 400 Amrita students and staff members worked in three shifts, 24x7 to support those in distress. Within the first five days, the team fielded more than 25,000 calls, connecting more than 100,000 flood victims across the state with appropriate relief services, including government officials, the Navy, NDRF, Kerala State Police, local fishermen and other volunteering agencies. Thousands of stranded people were saved and the communication helpline has became a solace for their dear ones. AYUDH Amritapuri volunteers verified the calls and contacted the government/military rescue teams working in the affected areas. Separate volunteer teams were made for follow-ups and tracking the stranded people for each district. The helpline services also ensured that rescued victims were provided with food and clothing and other basic necessities.
“I can speak for all of the volunteers when I say that we are ecstatic to be able to help in this small way,” said AYUDH Coordinator Amritesh. “We got a lot of positive feedback from the Indian Air Force and Navy, telling us that the information collected through the Amrita Helpline has helped them to better target their rescue and relief operations and to follow through with greater speed.
Additionally, the Amrita Center for Wireless Networks and Applications (AmritaWNA) deployed a mobile app, AmritaKripa, for aiding with the flood rescue and relief operations in Kerala. By using the mobile app, the people who are stranded at different locations can share their current location and urgent needs with rescue teams.
As the flood waters recede, Chancellor Amma and MAM remain fully committed to helping the survivors with their recovery for as long as it takes. Next steps for the Math include focusing on disease prevention, ongoing treatment of injury and disease, and finding ways to re-house those who have lost everything.
The MAM has been dedicated to disaster relief. Last year, the MAM donated Rs. 2 Crore to the Kerala State's Cyclone Ockhi Special Relief Fund.