The recent mass flooding by the River Kosi has caused mass devastation in the state of Bihar (North-East India) with over 3 million people in 16 districts affected, 1 million people evacuated, thousands still missing, hundreds of villages destroyed and over 230,000 people left homeless with entire livelihoods destroyed. It is Bihar’s worst flood disaster in 50 years!
3 September 2008. BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, under the guidance of Pramukh Swami Maharaj set up base camps at Katihar and Patna with teams of volunteers to gather first-hand information on the devastation and the type of relief materials required in the affected areas.
7 September 2008. BAPS started collecting and packing relief aid as informed by the BAPS team in Bihar.
10 September 2008. BAPS deployed sadhus and more volunteers (from Kolkata, West Bengal) with relief materials to Katihar. From Katihar, the BAPS team move to Madhepura, meeting the Relief Commissioner. BAPS was advised by the Government of Bihar to provide specific medicines to the medical camps organized by the Indian Army in the worst affected districts of Madhepura and Saharsa (North Bihar).
12-25 September 2008. BAPS was instructed to provide relief to areas still unaided by any agency or organizations in the District of Madhepura. BAPS teams provided relief aid and help to many villages which still have waist-high waters. Sadhu Purnaprakashdas of BAPS, who is heading the BAPS team in Madhepura, said “There are still a lot of villages which still have waist-high water flowing through them. About 90% of all village people have left their villages and are staying on the main roads in tents or make-shift shelters.“
Bhavesh Patel, who is handling the BAPS transportation in Bihar said, “The difficulty with transporting the material is that many of the bridges and roads are completely damaged. Sometimes we have to use boats and even carry the material on our shoulders, wading through flood waters to reach stranded people.”
Villages Helped in Bihar
BAPS organized a total of 9 large medical camps, treating over 5,100 patients. Sadhu Purnaprakashdas commented: “Most of the victims were suffering from fevers, stomach upsets, diarrhoea and skin allergies. Drinking water in tube-wells had become contaminated and that is why there was also an urgent need to purify drinking water.”Furthermore, BAPS also donated a large consignment of medicines to the Government-run Madhepura Hospital in Madhepura town.
Medicines provided included:
Cold / Flu
Fungus / Allergies
Furthermore, 500 families in the affected villages of Bind Toli, Tulsi Badi and Lachmania Tola (District: Madhepura) were given home kits containing clothes for the entire family, food items (rice, dal, flatten rice, salt, biscuits, etc) together with other necessities and large plastic sheets for shelter.
Counselling and Uplifting
Together with material relief aid, psychological and emotional counselling has helped victims cope with the trauma of the circumstances. BAPS sadhus and volunteers are actively counselling victims in the aftermath of the floods. Many have found inner strength to cope with the shock of the disaster.
“You are the first people to arrive here since the first flood waters destroyed our homes. We were forgotten and at the mercy of nature. Most of us are ill and weak. We cannot thank you enough for coming here today with food and medicines.”
Jeet Narayan Yadav
Farmer – Village: Sahasaul
“I have been suffering from stomach pains and diarrhoea for 5 days now. As the roads are washed away, we cannot go to the Block doctor who lives 6 km away. You have taken great trouble to come to us by boat. Thank you.”
Mohan Kumar Yadav
Farmer – Village: Seema Tola
“I had the honour of serving with the BAPS from 15 to 23 September 2008. My experience here has completly changed me. There was great joy and satisfaction in serving but also deep sadness when I saw ill children and old people. The relief work was gruelling and tough. I must say, that when it comes to providing relief and help, you people do not look at day or night. I have learnt a lot from you. I thank you for giving me this opportunity and the people have also told me that they will never forget you for helping them at this hour of need.”
Dr. Umesh Kumar
Bharahi Bazar, Madhepura
“The work and service rendered by the BAPS Sanstha was extremely wonderful. Your relief work was highly organized, reaching people in the most affected areas of Madhepura.”
Rajendra Ram Singh
(The Additional District Magistrate – Madhepura District)
“I am well aware of the work you do. Even here in Bihar you have done excellent work in serving the people of Madhepura and Saharsa.”
R. N. Singh
(NGO Coordinator – Government of Bihar)
“Bihar needs organizations like yours that come and help with a good pure heart.”