Flood Relief in Vavuniya
During the two – hour journey to Vavuniya, while observing the paddy fields blur into the blue of the ocean; the view reduced to nothing but distorted colors, I kept trying to picture what it would be like; I made my Jaffna experience the default setting, and added imaginative layers of feelings and emotions, that I thought would feel. Surprisingly, I thought that this experience in helping flood relief victims in Vavuniya would mirror the feelings and emotions felt in Jaffna as I would be doing a similar activity, however I was gravely mistaken as it was a drastically different event.
Although we formed a similar conveyer – belt like formation to donate the parcels, there were much more people that had to be manifested into this one classroom. Especially since, the location of the distribution was at a school given that their Town Hall was still flooded, the flood victims all had to gather in a small space; elbow to head, arm to shoulder, all cramped under one roof. I remember being dumbfounded by the sheer number of families asking for help, coupled with the cries of infants, balancing on their parent’s shoulders, attempting to escape the stampede below. As I stood on a cardboard box and began to hand the parcels, down the line, I was hit by the merciless stench of the old mold growing on the corner of two walls. It’s infested, rotten hands trying to reach toward the light, expanding and growing, covering the cracked green paint with its dark, sordid cover.
Towards the end of distributing the parcels, I was asked to go check if there were any more packages in the truck. I was looking for a space filled with bags, oozing bed sheets, rice, dhal and other necessities, but was struck with an empty truck. I was baffled as to how we could not have enough bags, as I was sure that we brought enough for the amount of people that registered through the town council. As I flitted my vision back to line of families getting baked under sun and jittering with restlessness and to the empty truck, I was bombarded with the feeling of disappointed, not at the families but at myself and the team, as I did not want anyone to go home empty handed. When I meekly told the Youth Leader of our predicament, he rigorously checked the list, to see that we have crossed off everyone’s names. At that moment, we realized that these people were those who had not registered. Although we announced, that there weren’t any more parcels, the families stood still not budging from their place, possibly thinking that we in actuality, had enough but were keeping the donations for ourselves. Thus, so as to not disappoint them further, we hired a nearby ‘kade’ (street shop), to give the remaining families ‘bath parcels’ (rice parcels), as a form of compensation for not having any remaining packages.
The outcomes that I felt that were explored during this experience was;
- Identifying a global issue and engage with issues of global significance (2 outcomes)
During this experience, it was clear that the Global Issue of ‘Class disparity’ and ‘Natural Disasters’ were explored when shaping this program to be a ‘Flood Relief program for marginalized Communities’. This issue was made the focal point of the project as the primary justification for my relief efforts was to alleviate the plight of those communities affected by the floods.
- Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS Experience
This outcome was also explored within the course of two blog posts, given that in the first one, titled ‘ Introduction to the Flood Relief Program’, I not only justified the grounds for this program but showed the process in which sponsors and donations helped to purchase the much – needed products to give to the families. Thus, the execution of this plan is apparent above, as it highlights both the manner in which the team and I delegates the products to the families and the way in which the families responded to our relief efforts.
- Show commitment and perseverance
Commitment and Perseverance were shown as an overall sentiment of this program, given that the Youth Team and I were determined to the ensure that the plan blossoms into fruition and was not a suggestive, half done proposal that would have been discarded if there weren’t enough sponsors. But more importantly I felt that the source of commitment and perseverance stemmed from the affected families’ uncanny ability to maintain a brave smile when accepting our donations and shaking off the looming emotions of being disheartened and discouraged.