(29 Aug '05)
29 August 2005 — Mumbai, Maharashtra
The Ashram has completed its relief work in Mumbai, where it has spent the past three weeks providing food, essential supplies and medical aid to victims of the monsoon-spawned flooding.
Dr. Chandrasekhar, a brahmachari based at the Amrita Kripa Charitable Hospital in Amritapuri, was one of three doctors sent by Amma to Mumbai in order to diagnose and treat flood victims there, as well as to distribute medicines.
“The worst-hit areas were the slums in place likes Kalyan, Badlapur, Kurla and Panvel,” said Dr. Chandrasekhar upon his return to Amritapuri. “When went there, we found that–although most of the first volunteer organizations to arrive on the scene had already departed–that many people had still not received their medicines. Even though the rains were still coming,people were willing to stand in queues to receive our medicines. This showed us how desperate the people were for help.”
The medical teams sent by the Ashram comprised three doctors, two fully equipped ambulances, seven paramedics,two nurses and two pharmacists. They attended to more than 1,500 patients every day and distributed a total of two tones of medicines [value of Rs. 20 lakh or $46,500 U.S.D.] that were sent from the Ashram’s AIMS Hospital in Cochin. Due to the large number of patients attending each camp, the medical team ran out of medicines at one stage. In appreciation of the great work being rendered by them, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Vilasarao Desmukh asked F.D.A. to provide medicines to the Ashram for distribution.
Dr. Chandrasekhar said that primarily the Ashram’s medical teams treated the flood victims for infectious diseases: “We saw a lot of lung infections, skin infections–the types of problems that are often seen in those who are continually in long-standing water. There were a few cases of malaria, dengue fever, typhoid and leptospirosis, but nothing that one could call an epidemic. We also saw many pregnant mothers, people suffering from malnutrition and anaemia.”
The first week the Ashram’s medical teams were in Mumbai, however, their focus was not on distributing medicines, but on distributing food and household items,such as kerosene stoves, sleeping mats, bed sheets, clothing, cooking vessels, rice grain and dhal. This went on in places such as Nerul, Panvel, Khidkupada and Badlapur.
In Nerul, the area in New Mumbai that is home to one of Amma’s branch ashrams, the teams serviced two relief camps, providing medical service and three meals a day for six days. Nerul had fallen victim to landslides, leaving hundreds homeless.
The worst of the monsoon flooding took place on 26th July, when just shy of one metre of rain fell in Mumbai in a single day.
“The sad thing is that the worst-affected were the poor,” reflected Dr. Chandrasekhar “Many of the slum residents lost all their belongings. They also lost all of their domestic animals, so their means of livelihood have seriously been affected as well.But at least now they have the proper footing to begin the road to recovery.”