My visit to Orissa Cyclone Relief Camp .
Shabu K C
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We collected 9 bags of clothes from NLSIU (6) ,Padmashree Inst. of Physiotherapy (1) and my friends and relatives(2). The GATI Cargo services had accepted to deliver these bags at Bhubaneswar free of cost. The bags from NLS and my home were dropped at GATIís Rajajinagar Office on 29th Nov 99. The tempo charges were Rs.200/-

Mr Bhibhu Prasad Tripati left on 29th Nov to Orissa and I left on 1st Dec by Guwahati Express. The tickets were confirmed only at 7.pm which was applied for emergency quota in the morning. The train arrived half an hour late, and train reached Bhubaneswar on 3rd at 9í0 clock ... five hours behind the schedule. Since the train was late I could not join Mr. Tripati for the days visit to the affected place. With the help of Mr. Tripatiís family ( Brother and Father) booked a room at Puri Hotel . Met Mr.Tripati in the late evening and planned for the next dayís visit to Ramakrishna Mission Ashram and then the visit to the affected village.

We started on 4th at 6.30 am, and reached ashram at around 7 am, spoke to the head swamyji and requested to accompany me with their relief camp for the day. He was very glad to take me to the affected village through his disciples. At around 7.30 am, a mini truck was loaded with 40 bags of clothes. We were seven people , 3 swamies , a driver, a helper , a police man and myself ( they call people like me who offer to server as volunteer) .

The village we were visiting was around 75 Kms from Puri on Puri- Konark road, and at around 10 kms from the Konark sun temple. The road was very close to the sea .. most of the time we could see the sea.

Even after a month ( approx.) the electricity and telephone poles and lines were still lying on the ground all along the way on puri konark road. The trees were either uprooted or broken above the ground level. The leaves of the coconut tree were all blown away. It looks naked and very sad about the coconut and palm trees without leaves . The uprooted and broken trees have all dried up and will take them a lot of time to clear them ... at least 8 months to a year, if done on a war footing speed. The entire forest has to be replanted if the previous state of greenery is to be regained. If not a very serious chain reaction would break out during next summer and rainy season.

The Main reasons for uprooting of trees according to my knowledge is that the top soil is very sandy and a large patch of water logging, patches of small lakes all around. The kind of treeís root were not gong very deep into the soil.

We reached the village by name Balayogi around 3 km off the main road. Luckily the village had a small kacha road enough for the truck to get into the village. On the way the swamyji spoke to the village head, mukiya and arranged for a big hall, it was mud built covered with paddy leaves... In this hall we spread a large plastic sheet, on which all the bags were emptied. The clothes were separated into saries , pants , shirts , small childrenís clothes , other ladies wear, bed spreads , blankets and warm clothes.

Next along with two more villagers we packed a sari, two or three pants, two three shirts two or three childrenís clothes, ladies clothes along with one warm clothe / sweater. This was made into a bundle tied and kept aside. We could make 210 such bundles.

To my utter surprise there was no halla-gulla or crowding around us while people collected clothes. It was so well organised and systematically distributed. Each family had a serial number, which was ticked on a book and signed by a family member. After this the member get a small piece of paper marked with Sl.No.. This paper was given to us and one bundle against this paper was given to them. Very elderly people were given a blanket was separately give. This process made sure that every family in the village gets one bundle. It was so nice of those people that they cooperated well.

We had take food from the ashram , but the people also served us with payasam and a curry. We were able to complete all the distribution by around 4.pm and left the village. The people of the village were very happy and waved their hands and smiled at us.

We reached the ashram at 5.30 pm and met swamyji and thanked him for giving us an opportunity, He also informed me that the bags which we had sent has reached ashram just now, and he would distribute it to the next village very soon.

The godown was very large and it was almost filled with clothes and other relief materials. The people at the ashram took relief materials daily to each village.

Later on I returned to the lodge got freshened up and took a very long lonely walk on the sea shore recollecting the most exiting and satisfying experience of my life.

It was time for me to leave. I had no reservation or any idea of my return journey. After much running around bus stand and railway station I was left with two options. To take the unreserved coach( Rs.210/-) or third class AC ( Rs.1100/-). I traveled in the unreserved coach up to Vijayawada. It was very much Physically, Mentally and Emotionally Taxing. I was at the lowest of my physical energy when the train reached Vijayawada. Then I took Bus to Bangalore. Finally reached Bangalore at 5.am on 7th. after a very good, exiting , thrilling and practical experience. It was and is genuinely my life most precious moments and I would always feel pleasured to recollect the most exiting experience and also greatest satisfaction of my life , which I feel after serving the people in need.