Everywhere there are small narrow laneways, just wide enough for 2 people to pass. The buildings stand close against the alleys and the residents watch our team as we move towards the distribution point. Everyone is smiling and welcoming, and they know that the bags on our motorcycles contain hot food for the members of their community in need.
As the line diminishes we begin to offer meals to the women and men. In this area many of the elderly are suffering from cataracts and their one undamaged eye shines with gratitude from their frail bodies. The women walk up in their wet and muddy saris. Fathers, whose families are trapped by the high water, begin to arrive. We give each enough for their whole family waiting for their return. More dirty, wet and raggedly clothed children come running along the path seeking food. It is amazing how politely and quietly they stand and wait, only looking at us with their eyes.
A large tank of fresh water is located on the limits of the floodwaters and residents fill bottles and jugs to have drinking water. One man kneels beneath the faucet and opens the valve to give himself a short bath. The residents immediately howl in displeasure as he is quickly chastised for his selfishness.
Having served about 500 meals, we walk further along the Varuna river to find a boat to continue the distributions. In this area, the only access to the houses is by boat. We walk out to where the boat is waiting, up to our thighs in the muddy and polluted waters of the Varuna. And, we find that a medical emergency has arisen. A woman is giving birth and urgently needs medical aid. So our boat unloads the local residents and heads back into the floodwaters to assist.
A decision is made to take this food to another area, as with this wait, the food will no longer be hot when received. So we return and the valuable packages of warm nourishing food are loaded on the motorcycle to be taken to the next site. It is disappointing that we cannot serve these people today, but it is part of the reality in a situation such as this. So many things we take for granted are challenged and each situation must be prioritized given limited resources. It is a profound opportunity for us as volunteers to understand the plight of truly not having enough.