Stories from Relief Camp in Pathanamthitta, Kerala: Picture Blog

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Owing to devastating floods in Kerala, at least a million people have been rendered homeless, unemployed and forced to take shelter in relief camps.

Through the pictures below, World Vision India has captured the plight of about 450 families from marginalized communities who have taken refuge in this higher secondary school in Pathanamthitta, Kerala.

The pictures are taken by Theodore Sam, Communications Manager, World Vision India

More than 450 families have taken refuge in this higher secondary school in Pathanamthitta, Kerala. Representatives from each family, stand in long queues to receive their food.

Their houses are still submerged under the flood waters and will take a few more days before they can go back to their village and start putting their homes and lives back together again.

The long halls which used to be classrooms are now split into smaller sections using the school benches, where around 10-20 people sleep in a small space.

For the past eight days, eleven-year-old Achu Rajan’s school is also his house. As soon as the flood warning was given, Achu’s parents took whatever they could and put it on the roof hoping the water wouldn’t rise that far. But, since the government opened up the dams, water rose swiftly and now every house in Achu’s village is completely submerged under water.

“I lost my books, my certificates, all the belonging in our house. We could only bring this much,” he says pointing to the few bags, a few utensils and a plastic mat placed on one side of the classroom.

Thirty-year-old Saritha was all smiles as she came briskly to meet us. “I was sponsored child many years ago. As soon as I heard there was someone from World Vision, I had to come a meet you all,” she says excitedly. Saritha too, like the 400 plus families taking shelter in the relief camps, lost most of their household belongings to the floods.

“I’ve sent my two children (10 & 8) to my sister’s place. We don’t know how long it is going to take for the flood water to recede and how much longer for us to clean our house and start our normal life again,” she says, with a sense of uncertainty in her voice.

Saritha’s husband, Sajimon, is a daily wage labourer. He used to work as a mason and earned around Rs.850 (approx. $12.5 USD). They took a loan and started building a small house. But since the monsoon started about 4 months back, Sajimon hasn’t been able to find work every day. And now since the heavy downpour and the floods that followed, Sajimon hasn’t been able to go to work for the past 20 days.

“When the flood warning was given for us to evacuate, I had to bring my aged uncle and aunty along with me. We brought only a few things that we could. I’ve even lost all the tools that I use for my work. I don’t know what to do” he says, very dejected.

While people in these relief camps need immediate relief assistance, the major challenge thousands of families are staring helplessly at is their loss of livelihood.

World Vision India’s relief efforts:

World Vision India aims to provide relief to 20,000 families living in Kerala. In their first phase, they have reached out to Malappuram, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Wayanad and Palakkad. World Vision India is also working on assessing the worst affected areas of Mallapuram and Pallakad. The assessment findings will help in addressing their immediate needs and also work on the rehabilitation process. World Vision India is also providing Non-food items like utensils and clothes among other essentials. They are also providing WASH kits and carrying out WASH activities especially for children, to avoid waterborne diseases.

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