If you want to help Kerala, in India rebuild after flooding wrought havoc throughout the state in August 2018, here’s what you need to know.
Onam is the great festival of Kerala and all the people of Kerala are much in my thoughts as they mark it this year; but they are not celebrating as their beautiful state: God’s Own Country was torn asunder by savage flood waters and heavy rain for days. The rain has stopped, the flood water is receding, but the livelihoods of thousands has been severely challenged. Yes, there have been tragic deaths, but the huge destruction to precious homes, gardens, fields, businesses has been catastrophic.
Kerala is a beautiful state in South India that runs along the Arabian Sea coast to almost the very bottom of the country. Since 2003, I have been visiting this lovely peaceful green State of India and enjoying its gentle welcome; whether one wants Backwaters Journeys on spice boats, or a Lakeside resort, or busy Town boutique hotel or Wildlife lodge or Beach stay there is so much to entice the traveller.
We as a couple return annually to Kerala for an R and R, a rest and relaxation of three weeks in a most beautiful favourite resort; but there are so many resorts, hotels, homestays, Ayurvedic centres, boutique hotels, shops, small family businesses and all manner of livelihoods that have been dealt a great blow in the last ten days.— the Chief Minister of Kerala’s Relief Fund is a sensible way that you could donate to the Chief Minister of Kerala’s Distress Relief Fund.
I have spent nearly the last 20 years travelling across India gathering experiences about which to write. This ancient yet modern diverse land is the Land of my birth and where I grew up. I love it and when I return it is to a second home. Kerala entered my heart in 2003 when I was able to visit for the first time and I never tire of returning to the tranquility that I find.
The welcome is always immense, the sunshine and gentle breezes, the incredible spices that has made it a hub of commerce since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the great Asoka of the Mauryan Empire; it was the global hub in ancient times located as it is at the tip of a vast subcontinent to which traders of all races came by boat to buy the precious spices.
From the Mediterranean, from China, from the Middle East men in ships came to Kerala to trade, and now that trade continues but we as Travellers usually come by air, or sometimes in cruise ships to discover this land of enchantment. So, please, help rebuild it as quickly as possible.
“It’s going to be a long road to recovery. Please help the people of Kerala get back on their feet any way you can. Thank you so much.”
For those of you who have also been deeply touched by this disaster, and want to help, Gopinath Parayil of The Blue Yonder, a responsible travel company based in Kerala, wrote these wise words, which he has generously allowed me to reuse. Few people have done more than Gopi to showcase and preserve the culture of Kerala, his birthplace, through his unique and compelling tours.
Please STOP, CHECK & PROCEED
Because you want to help and support us, please don’t pack your bags and come to Kerala to help us NOW. Please check on people you know here about what help they need before you make a move. This is NOT because we are arrogant and because we don’t need your help. WE NEED YOUR HELP. Not only for now but also for the future.
Please check on us before you start your journey to Kerala. Your good intentions otherwise will clog our already broken roads, crowd our relief camps, and most importantly take away precious time from those in the ground. We don’t want unsupervised volunteering to be the next DISASTER. Irrespective of your good intentions, allow us locals to handle this crisis. We won’t let you down. We won’t let us down. We can’t afford to.
The immediate crisis is over. We stood together, we held each other, we held out our hands to support one another. We know we are in your prayers. Thank you. As for the next phase, while many of us are still in relief camps, some of us have started checking on our houses. It breaks our hearts, after a week of deluge. But we aren’t broken. We know you will not allow us to break. We trust in you as well.
We NEED you to hold the ground and be patient. While our fishermen rest a bit and repair their boats and nets, while our policewomen rest a little bit, us locals — ranging from drivers to merchants to technologists to politicians to housewives to officers and managers and labourers — we need to figure out HOW to fix our problems. In the meantime, please HELP US REMOTELY, unless otherwise specifically requested for.
Here’s the best you can do to help us:
- Watch out for us remotely. We call our fishermen “God’s Own Army.” You will be “Kerala’s Standby Army.”
- Contribute financially. Donate to the Chief Minister of Kerala’s Distress Relief Fund. (Or another authorized fund, see list below.)
- Offer to help if you have expertise. Goodwill is one thing. We respect you and appreciate even the thought of helping us. BUT what we need now is expertise. Are you an expert in disaster recovery? Then please come, but again, only when we request. Come only when we switch on the GREEN light. Until then it should be RED & YELLOW.
- Come visit usonce our tourism season kick starts. Your spending as tourists will help us recover our 28,000 crores tourism business that provides jobs to millions of people. Help us rebuild the local economy together.
We have some scars here and there. TRUE. But we are still beautiful. Inside out. We are cleaning up our roads and homestays and hotels. We will be ready for business soon. Come and holiday with us in a month. We will OPEN our homes, our HEARTS. We will welcome you with our open arms. To show our world, our resilience, about how we stood together.
Until then, please, we request you to be our standby army. Think about the rules of traffic lights. Apply the principle. History will thank you for being smart and practical and not emotional at this time.
Stand with us. Stand by us. Thank you for your love
How to Help Kerala
There are many, many organizations, companies, governments, and individuals who have created relief drives for Kerala. I will try and add as many credible and authorized fundraising initiatives as I can here and will continue to add to this list.
- Chief Minister of Kerala’s Distress Relief Fund
- World Vision is distributing emergency relief and has a list of much-needed items you can buy and donate.
- Amazon Flood Relief(payment will be made to Oxfam, India)
- Facebook Kerala Flood Relief in the USA
This colourful Urli with its flowers is a symbol of welcome in beautiful Kerala, it too will welcome you when you come or return and help by being there to rebuild this beautiful precious State of India.