Amidst the sorrows and privations caused by the floods, and apprehensions about where, when and how to raise the thousands of crores of rupees required for the rebuilding of Kerala following the floods for a second year, it is indeed comforting to hear stories of altruism and compassion that still endure in our society.
Official figures estimated a loss of about Rs 30,000 crore from the 2018 floods, and the damage of 2019 floods is yet to be estimated. The government is committed to raising donations and to borrowing from whatever sources that are available. At the same time, even as it is appreciated that the government alone cannot meet the challenge by its own resources, there have been calls from various quarters to all compassionate people, rich or otherwise alike, to offer succour to the disaster-stricken and to rehabilitate them. But it is those outstanding human beings who dashed to the scenes of badly needed rescue and relief efforts, without waiting for anybody's call or persuasion, that have claimed the tears of joy. When stories of those distinct models come through the media, we realize that virtue has not been entirely swept away in the tide of evil.
If last year the hero was Jaisal who lay on his belly in muddy waters to let those who could not board the resuce boat, use his back as step board, this time the accolates from within Kerala and outside have been won by Nowshad of Kochi who gave away his merchandise of garments that had been stocked for sale and should have won him his bread, magnanimously reckless about his wares, and let volunteers take them all to the camps. Both of these did the great acts not in pursuit of fame or recognition, which increases our obligation to them. Reports pouring in tell us that kits of food, and clothes and home equipment are still flowing to the relief camps that accommodate the flood-affected temporarily. Majority of these kits and packets are donations from kind minds and voluntary bodies and establishments. Here are some souls who refuse to rest on the comfort that the tragedy of floods demolishing their abode and sweeping away their property including cattle is their fate, not ours. Any society will have a heartless and seslfish section given to resting in solace that their family and themselves have not been affected and that was it. The physical and financial contribution of the selfless should open the eyes of such minds too. In a way, natural disasters are trials from God to teach those unfortunate ones who are incapable of such broad perspective or responding with humanity.
In Kerala, bearing the burden of heavy population density, there are lakhs of people for whom owning a plot of three cents of land for an abode still remains a dream. Thus the unfortunate ones who have lost their entire assets in land slides or like calamities, are the ones forced to build their dwelling units in unsuitable and unsafe riverbanks, gradient terrain of hillsides or disaster-prone contours in high ranges. The next priority should be for schemes to safely rehabilite them. Although several such schemes have been declared by central and state governments, availability of land remains a serious challenge in Kerala. Rehabilitation should be in residences that do not get swept away in heavy rains or collapse to the earth. It is gratifying that individuals and organizations who are seized of the urgent importance of the task are coming forward with offers. The declaration by Muslim League of its rehabilitation scheme to distribute three acres of land to the landless and to support those who lost homes and livelihood to get back to life, made by the party's Malappuram district president Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal, should act as inspriration for other parties and organizations.
Another model to be recalled is the earlier Rs 10-crore project of Kozhikode-based People's Foundation declared to rehabilitate the victims of rain-fall disasters in different parts of the state. And no praise would be excessive for the philanthropic mind of a retired teacher from Vadakara Prabhakaran, who offered 15 cents of land to rehabilitate families stricken by the flood. And then are those volunteers and service bodies who slogged round the clock alongside government's rescue teams to recover missing dead bodies in locations hit by land slides. In times when increasing banditry, lynchings, corruption, and torture of children and women continue to chill human minds, these tales of the virtuous should stir our spirits further. And may our optimism be about such bright rays to come at the end of the dark alley.