Updated: August 24, 2018 11:11 AM GMT
A student volunteer takes stock of packed relief materials for flood victims at SMV High School in Trivandrum, Kerala, on Aug. 22. (Photo by Manjunath Kiran/AFP)
Transgressing all barriers of religion and caste, rich and poor, high and low, Indians have joined hands to provide succor to people reeling under the worst flood in five decades in Kerala.
Justice Kurien Joseph, a Supreme Court judge, Catholic and Kerala native, worked until late at night in New Delhi to help pack and label boxes containing relief materials for flood victims.
"It was heartening to see people unite in love for their suffering brethren casting aside all boundaries of religion and region," Joseph said as he assisted children and women packing materials.
The flood in the southern state washed away hundreds of houses and submerged villages, killing at least 370 people and displacing about 800,000 to relief camps.
Not only Kerala people living in New Delhi "but people from other parts of India have gathered here. It just goes to show that goodness has not disappeared from humans," Joseph said.
A group of lawyers launched the initiative through social media. Despite the short notice, people gathered with clothing and food to be packed and sent to the flood-hit state 2,500 kilometers away.
In Kerala, fishermen took out their boats on their own to rescue people. According to reports, they refused remuneration from the government for their voluntary work, saying they did not do it for money.
Putting his back into it. Quiet literally. Jaisal KP a fisherman in Vengara puts himself in water so women and children can use his back as a step into the boat. 600 fisherman helping out in #KeralaFloods the unsung heroes. #Salutepic.twitter.com/DXo1CbKIs2— Shreya Dhoundial (@shreyadhoundial) August 19, 2018
"Jesus' love thy neighbor philosophy has never been so evident in our country," said Lucy John, a teacher from New Delhi's Mayur Vihar area, where a collection drive was organized by an association of Kerala people.
Organizations, agencies and resident associations are all busy collecting relief material in cash and kind in the capital.
Tons of rice, lentils, sugar, clothes and toiletries are being collected, prompting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to proudly proclaim that "every Delhi resident stands with the people of Kerala."
Rita Benjamin from a journalists' housing complex in New Delhi made an appeal over social media and collected goods worth 1 million rupees (US$14,265) in a day.
Also keen to help, Indian Railways is ferrying relief materials free of cost.
The Ramakrishna Mission, a Hindu organization, is at the forefront of relief operations in northern Kerala, said Swami Shantatmananda, secretary of its New Delhi branch.
"We are sending cash donations from states while our Chennai centers are organizing relief materials," he told ucanews.com.
Khalsa Aid, the U.K.-based Sikh organization's Indian wing, has volunteers cooking and providing food for the marooned.
Churches, church-run schools, seminaries, convents and other Christian institutions have opened their doors to stranded flood victims besides providing relief in cash and kind.
Some 1,500 people have been camping in St. Joseph's Pontifical Seminary in Aluva since Aug. 14 when flooding caused by a monsoon deluge began to inundate homes.
Father John Britto, director of Chetanalaya, a church-based NGO in New Delhi, said it has already sent 1 million rupees and two consignments of relief materials. Cash donated from all parishes of Delhi Diocese will also be sent to Kerala.
All parishes in Delhi Archdiocese have decided not to celebrate the coming Onam (harvest) festival but to send money to flood victims instead.
People in other major cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad have sent truckloads of relief materials to Kerala to reflect the unprecedented enthusiasm to help the suffering.
"The scenes on television and videos on social media showing the devastation — trees and houses falling like a pack of cards following landslides — have struck a chord in every heart," said social activist Suresh Ghatade.
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