Not only do these rivers attract people to live, but the waters support many livelihoods. The waters nourish the farmers’ crops. Boatmen ply the river waters. Fishermen collect their produce. Funerals are performed on the riverbanks. Pundits attend to the temples and hold rituals on the famous ghats. And the large numbers of tourists attract many vendors – both hawkers and shopkeepers - and beggars. So for those living in poverty, the floods brought not only loss of homes and belongings, but also loss of income.
The support of the Sai Maa global community enabled Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust to collaborate with ASMITA, a local charitable organization dedicated to assisting impoverished communities. Using ASMITA’s local knowledge and volunteer connections we were able to focus our support in some of the most needy communities not receiving other assistance. With a small team of volunteers, more than 6,000 hot meals were served to families in shelters or unable to cook meals. In some cases meals were carried in sacks on the head through chest high water to reach the recipients. In addition, more than 300 families were donated basic provisions to assist them in re-establishing their lives. Over 1,000 more people were served in medical camps with doctors and a nurse providing checkups and free medicine and vitamins to counteract the possibility of disease posed by the floods.
The impact of the support provided through Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust has been tremendous. At each location we were quickly surrounded by grateful people seeking assistance. Often there was curiosity as they looked at our white clothes and saw the banners announcing support by Sai Maa. Each location had its own personality but they all shared a common need and the people displayed dignity, patience and gratitude. The smiles as they received the offerings were warm, friendly and genuine. The children were excited, welcoming and open. Communities came to recognize Sai Maa and the Sai Maa community, and the qualities of open-heartedness, generosity and love that Sai Maa teaches. As time passed communities that we visited a number of times began to recognize us and began to ask when we would be coming back.
As the relief work draws to a close, Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust continues to offer medical camps in some of the worst hit areas where the floodwaters have been slowest to recede. In many of these areas, mud and silt is still being cleared, having been over 10feet deep in some places. The reconstruction and cleanup will continue, but life has largely returned to its normal rhythm. This is not to say that the impact and hardship is over. It is more a reflection of the flexibility and resiliency of the local people, and their philosophical attitude towards life.
Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust will continue to support these communities and other impoverished areas through their Just One Hunger Initiative, bringing food and the love and caring of the Sai Maa global community to those in need.
Thank you for your support, your love and generosity.
The Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust volunteers.