Installment #23 - February 3, 2001
We left the Ashram in a convoy of three buses almost one week to the minute after the quake. The buses were filled with plastic tarps, blankets, self sufficiency bags (with mostly bulk food items for four persons for two days) and cold meals. They were manned by one senior and two junior Swamis, a doctor, two drivers per vehicle, and several other volunteers. At around 2PM, we arrived at an Ashram near Rapar, north of Rajkot and northeast of Bhuj in the northeastern part of the Kachchh district.
The swamis met with Ashram officials and returned with a list of villages that had been surveyed and needed aid but had not yet received any. We drove almost another hour partly over bumpy and dusty dirt roads to reach our assigned villages. Then we split up, one bus per village. The Swami on our bus listed the names of the heads of each village family on a relief form, as dictated by a village elder, and then we began distribution.
As the names were read, a family member came forward, applied his thumbprint to the relief form, and was given tarp, blanket, matches, five cold meals, and a self sufficiency bag. This all took place without leaving the immediate area of the bus.
We distributed aid in two more villages before we stopped at dusk, and in the last village I had the opportunity to take pictures of the people and of some of the damage. (Somehow, the memory card in the camera became corrupted when the batteries got low, and I have not yet been able to transfer these pictures to the laptop computer). Although damage was extensive in this village, I understand that the number of casualties was two.
We returned to the Rapar Ashram and offloaded our remaining supplies. I met a bank manager who is heading a team of relief volunteers from another state. They are living in a tent on the Ashram grounds and working daily in the surrounding villages. We left the Ashram at about 9PM and arrived back in Rajkot at 4AM this morning.In the previous Installment, I had included a map of the area where Allen has been working. Allen has sent a couple of more detailed maps, photographed from a map that he is using. Click on the links below to view:
- The map from my atlas (where Kachchh is spelled Kutch)
- A closer view from Allen's map
- An even closer view from Allen's map
Allen has left for Bhuj today for three to five days. He will be living at the Shri Ramakrishna Ashram in Bhuj, and distributing aid in surrounding villages, so will be out of contact for a few days. He's sent the following appeal:
An Opportunity to Help
The Shri Ramakrishna Ashram in Rajkot has a blackboard near the front of the grounds on which they list the various items that are most needed, and people are encouraged to donate these items. The list changes each day. As of this morning, they are no longer asking for food, water, clothing, and tents, but are asking only for cash donations. This is a way in which everyone who is following these reports can help deliver aid to the victims of the earthquake - make a cash donation to the Shri Ramakrishna Ashram.
First, I need to say that I have no official connection with the Ashram and am making this suggestion on my own; the Ashram has not authorized me to solicit funds for them. But I can assure you that if you would like to help, every penny you donate will be delivered to the Shri Ramakrishna Ashram in Rajkot, Gujarat, India. I have seen it to be a very efficiently and intelligently run organization. India relies much more on private organizations for relief work, and much less on the government, than we do in the States. I believe this (a donation to the Ashram) to be about the best way to get aid to those who need it.
Here is the plan: If you wish to donate to earthquake relief, send your donation to Dave Pratt before February 20th. Dave will list your name and amount given on this website. (If you dont want your name listed, tell Dave and hell list you as "Anonymous".) Dave and I will take care of the transfer to India. Just before I leave Rajkot to return home, I will deliver the total amount to the Ashram. They will give me a receipt that I will photograph and Dave will post on this website. I do not believe that a donation made in this manner will qualify for a US income tax deduction, but it will make you feel good, and will deliver appropriate and timely aid where it is needed.