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Uttarakhand

    Mr Babu Joesph, Mr Charudata of Letzdream, Delhi, Mr Ved Arya of Srijan, Rajasthan and myself visited the 25 yr young People's Science Institute working for the Uttarakhand disaster based in Dehradun ( www.peoplesscienceinstitute.org) founded by Dr Ravi Chopra in whom we found a wonderful partner well versed with the hills, people , the government and has build an able team, many of the staff are working with them since quite a few years. Dr Ravi enjoys a very good reputation and has earned a lot of goodwill in the welfare sector and with donors too. Thanks to PSI we are able to reach out to the far off villagers too through their network of 13 partners in Uttarakhand. PSI is very methodical and all the work is well documented, Dr Chopra is very clear about the road map and wants to focus on...

A) Relief (almost done )
B) Temporary Shelters ( identified 300 houses through their partners, work has begun ) and finally
C) on the livelihood of the people which will need ongoing involvement and take a few years.
 
On the 18th we met in PSI's office to learn more about the progress being made and the current situation, Dr Chopra had prepared a PPT , which was very helpful in knowing the role of PSI and the road ahead, next we visited 2 villages, accompanied by dedicated PSI team members Mr Puran and Mr Subhash who were a big help, we had to walk for a tough 3/4 kms but on steep slopes and uphill from one village to the other, which left us exhausted. Mr Babu Joseph is an amazing man, even after raising a good amount from the staff of Axis Bank and a matching amount from Axis Bank foundation he is now trying to involve his officers to volunteer for the disaster work, after one such meeting in Dehardun he headed for Delhi to inspire and get more people from Axis Bank, this is a very important initiative.
  
Parodi : approx 75 kms from Dehardun with a population of 550 +people and 110 houses, out of which 30 were completely damaged in the cloud burst on the night of June 16th, all the villagers sensed the gravity of the situation and moved out quickly but leaving behind all their belongings, they are now left with only the clothes they wore, some animals also died as they were tied and could not be rescued, many small fields also were fully damaged. fortunately no lives were lost, when i met a few people who had lost their houses i happened to be standing on one, fully buried under the debris, they had to show me the partly visible roof to make me understand, the person who had lost his house had very deep eyes and i could see the uncertainty, despair and also some hope, he became emotional while he explained the tragic night scene, when i looked up the mountain i could hardly imagine that a size this small could bring in so much debris, the primary school too was completely damaged, One thing which stood out strongly was the human spirit with just a month after the tragedy they seem to have come to accept the reality and are already talking about the future, the govt has given a chq of Rs 1 lakh in this village to all who had completely lost their houses and Rs 5400 per family for immediate needs to all the villagers. This village is better off than the others, also they have a very active village head who is vocal about their problems. The affected people are accommodated by the other villagers.

Chanan : on the same route, with a population of 600 in 120 houses , out of which 11 were completely damaged. This village has a largely poor population, when we met a few affected villagers they seemed to be lost and were more depressed than the village above, these villagers seem to be broken, they too have lost their fields and a large number of animals, they also were very innocent. The govt interim aid of Rs1 lakh has not reached this village as yet though immediate relief of Rs 5400 per family was received.


    We saw quite a few trucks still ferrying the relief materials, there is no shortage of it except to the remotely located villages, we heard about a lot of NGO's doing good work, cannot imagine the situation without them, why can't govt start camps, at a time when more than 60,000 people were stuck why couldn't the President, Prime Minister camp there, what is more important than saving thousands of lives, i am sure this would have made a big difference, the Army has been applauded for their role though,

    So far PSI has enough funds to cover the phase A and B above but is still working on the most important last phase of livelihood to sustain the people for future, they have some ideas and are open to new ones and are on the lookout for some partners who can help in it,s execution too. currently they are planning to work in 35 to 50 villages not more, as time passes there would be more clarity on this issue, till then let's all pray for those affected and try our best to assist them to build their future. God Bless.  

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