The Indomitable Spirit of Kerala
Since the onset of the South West Monsoons in India, torrential rains have been pummelling the southern state of Kerala, including the financial capital and port city of Kochi, heaping widespread damage across the region.
Floods ravaged the state with fields and streets lying submerged. In some areas, the incessant rains, combined with the opening of floodgates of the overflowing dams caused water levels to swell to an astounding 15 feet, inundating houses and vehicles. The accompanying tropical storms triggered landslides that engulfed entire villages, buried families and homes.
The unrelenting monsoons have left in its wake, total devastation. The torrential rains affecting millions, displacing hundreds of thousands from the comfort of their homes and the death toll kept rising with every passing week.
As the monsoon fury subsided, a team led by WMO North India Chapter VP - Mr. Ehsan Gadawala, arrived in Kochi to monitor the situation, distribute relief aid to the flood victims, assess their needs and understand their immediate requirements.
On the 11th of September, the WMO team comprising of Mr. Ehsan Gadawala, Mr. Haseen Aghadi, Mr. Haji Lokhandwala, Mr. Mudassar Patel, Mrs. Razia Chashmawala and Mrs. Naseema Surty landed at Kochi airport in the early hours of the morning. They were greeted by the Kochi Cutchi Memon Federation President - Mr. Anwar Hashmi and his team who took them on a tour of the worst affected areas of the state, that had faced the brunt of the catastrophe.
The Kochi Cutchi Memon Federation have been serving Humanity in the state of Kerala since 200 years. They were at the forefront when the storm of the century hit the state. From arranging rescue operations by helicopters and boats for residents stranded on the roofs of their homes, located in inaccessible areas that were submerged by the deluge, to distribution of food grains, relief aid and essential household items, the federation had done everything in their power to alleviate the pain and misery of the afflicted.
As the WMO team joined the federation members and visited several villages to witness the aftermath of the rains, the plight of the flood victims was heart wrenching. Most had lost their homes, their belongings and possessions, many had lost their livelihoods, some had even lost one or more members of their families. The dreaded monsoons had left them battered and bruised but their spirit remained unbroken.
The people of Kerala are self reliant, hardworking, skilled and well educated, with the state boasting of the highest literacy rate in the country. Nobody asked the WMO team for alms or charity, they just wanted to be empowered with enough tools to earn a livelihood, in fact all that the ladies demanded, were sewing machines so that they would be back on their feet and provide for their families.
"I salute the women of Kerala. Here was this middle-aged lady, standing in the middle of her broken down home. One of the walls had crumbled, the roof had collapsed, there wasn't a single household item on the empty floor, not even a paltry stove to make food as everything had been swept away in the floods, yet she requested for a sewing machine. She wanted to resume making clothes in a damp corner of her home so that she could earn enough to educate her children, rebuild her life and home." states Raziya Chashmawala (Deputy Chairman of the WMO North India Chapter Ladies Wing), one of the members of the visiting WMO team.
"I wasn't in a corporate office of maximum city where many a women have broken the glass ceiling, scaled the greatest heights of success and are perched on the top rung of the corporate ladder but in a village in the backwaters of Kerala. Yet, here I was, standing next to the torch bearer, an exemplary crusader for the independent Indian women, a liberated woman who had weathered many a storms and had come out unscathed!"
WMO members encountered many more unfortunate victims of this cataclysmic tragedy, each with their own shattering tale of loss and despair. Each one sitting in their decrepit homes bludgeoned by the rains, without any worldly possessions; just their resilient spirit and stout hearts getting them through their journey of unimaginable grief.
As the team continued its tour and witnessed the trail of death and destruction, left in the wake of the devastating rains, a decision was reached. WMO would contribute 50 thousand dollars towards the welfare and rehabilitation of our brothers and sisters in Kerala. We will be adopting several families and catering to their every need, rebuilding homes, empowering the people with tools for their livelihoods, providing essential household items, food grains and most importantly sewing machines to the self-sustaining, proud and independent women of Kerala.
In keeping with the indomitable spirit of the men and women of this great state, we remain unwavering in our commitment, unyielding in our determination and undefeated in our resolve ; WMO stands firm, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Kerala, often called "God's own Country". And although it is facing His wrath, it will never be Forsaken.
A lot more needs to be done so we appeal to your hearts to donate generously towards this pertinent cause. Your timely contributions help us to Serve Humanity at the most vulnerable times. The people of Kerala have shown exceptional courage under duress, time for the Memon Community to reciprocate and display exceptional generosity in their hour of need.