Report by Nityananda Rama Das
February 20, 1999— Adipur, Gujarat — Over 150,000 meals consisting of puri, curry, and rice, along with 1600 survival kits containing rice, oil, flour, vegetables, stoves, lamps, blankets, candles, kerosene, etc, were distributed by the Food for Life team from Baroda. See Pictures
More than 50 volunteers from the Baroda ISKCON temple set up camp in Adipur and along with serving delicious hot vegetarian meals Dr. Savyasaci Das counseled survivors from the Bhagavad-Gita. Twelve other nearby villages were also served.
Dr. Savysaci Das also treated many patients with minor ailments at the camp.
The following is a letter from one of the Village Leaders:
TO WHOM, IT MAY CONCERN
Due to an unexpected earthquake on 26.01.2001, the entire residents of Bhadreswar village were put in a fearful awkward situation, but fortunately, a team of Food for Life volunteers from ISKCON-Vadodara and Vallabh Vidyanagar centers came to our village to help. They observed that the village people were completely desperate for help as they had lost their homes and relatives. Food for Life immediately established a tent in the village and set up a kitchen. They provided us prasad (sanctified food) twice a day, allowing all of us sit together without any discrimination of cast and creed. They also distributed blankets, household kits, and medicine, etc., and provided so many other important services. They served our village continuously keeping their kitchen active day and night for 14 days.
In my capacity as a Sarpanch (elected head of the village), on behalf of the villagers, we express our deepest feelings of gratitude that we will never forget the obligation of the devotees of ISKCON throughout our lifetime. Not only did they serve prasad for the 6,000 residents of our village, but your team distributed prasad and necessities to the six or seven surrounding villages. We heartily offer thanks to all of the volunteers who so kindly helped us. Actually, we do not find appropriate words to describe and praise your selfless services.
Over and above these words of thanks, we would like to point out that our Bhadreswar village of 6,000 is very poor. No one in our village is rich. There are no big companies established in the village. Till now, the village has not received any aid from the Government, nor from any other private firm, except some cash-doll money and 5 kg of grain from the Government. In view of this, the future of the village people is precarious because we are staying outside the village in a temporally built tent in the open field.
We ask you to kindly bestow your mercy and adopt our village under your shelter and management to construct our 1,000 houses. This is our sincere hope. We trusted this meets you well.
Chandulal Velji Kanah
Report by Parijata Dasi
February 15, Mumbai, India — A team of Food for Life volunteers from the ISKCON temple in Juhu have set up a base in the Rapar district of Kutch to provide sanctified hot meals to earthquake victims in Gujarat and Kutch.
Since beginning in the first week of February a team of 80 ISKCON devotees have been working day and night to cook and serve hot breakfast, lunch and dinner to almost 100,000 people daily throughout the various villages in Kutch and Gujarat, including Anjar, Bhachao, Navapura, Motikhiri, NaniKhiri and Nandsar.
A typical breakfast includes puri, (hot bread), pakora (vegetable fritters), halava (semolina pudding), puffed rice, poha and boiled rice and is served every morning beginning at 7am. Lunch consists of puri, subji (vegetable curry), rice, dal, halava and pakora and is distributed from eight mobile vans. Packets of biscuits, butter, bread rolls and toast are also distributed freely.
Food for Life is also providing relief supplies and uncooked food grains to local village authorities to distribute to villagers as needed.
Aside from great tasting food, the most unique feature of the Food for Life program is the spirituality with which the relief effort is being offered. ISKCON devotees are entertaining the villagers with melodious singing and dancing. Nitai Pad Kamal Das, Director of Food for Life at ISKCON Juhu, commented, “When the people join with us in the chanting of the Lord’s holy name they completely forget their misery and start smiling again.”
Other Food for Life teams from the ISKCON temples in Baroda, Ahmedabad and Surat have also sent teams of volunteers to other quake-hit areas.
Report by Hari Dham Das
February 13, 2001 — Mumbai, India – Bhaktivedanta Hospital, which provides holistic health care with equal emphasis on the needs of the body, mind and soul, continues to make a marked difference to the lives of those affected by the devastation of the Gujurat earthquake of 26 January 2001.
A team of doctors, nurses, spiritual care counselors, and support workers tirelessly work on a regular ten-day rotation basis, providing holistic care to the inhabitants of Rahpar, a small town in the north of the Rann of Kutch and 140 villages in the surrounding area.
The hospital relief team rapidly moved into the disaster areas soon after the earthquake struck, seeing to the medical and nursing needs of the victims. The physical support care program is being complemented by a spiritual care package that consists of spiritual care counseling, sanctified food distribution, and prayer group meetings.
UNICEF has made available to the Bhaktivedanta Hospital relief effort a tent in which a Day Care Center with 20 beds has been set-up to provide essential medical and nursing care. Up to now over 3 thousand patients have been cared for since the hospital extended its care beyond its usual catchment area in the Thane District.
The earthquake indiscriminately struck at the heart of every inhabitant, leaving thousands of people devastated and destitute. Spiritual care counselors from Bhaktivedanta Hospital are bringing hope and restored faith to the victims who are grappling with the psychological trauma that this natural disaster has brought to their lives.
Dedicated doctors and nurses risked their own lives when they took occupancy of the deserted Shrushrusha General Hospital that was abandoned by its own doctors and patients soon after the first tremors. It is in this hospital where staff from Bhaktivedanta Hospital are attending to severe spinal injuries, wounds, infections, fractures, lacerations to children, hypothermia, pneumonia and other related injuries.
Seriously ill and injured patients are being airlifted to Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai where a team of specialist consultants are on stand-by.
Food for Life, the international food relief program of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Juhu, Mumbai is distributing on a daily basis 150 thousand hot sanctified vegetarian meals to the needy. This relief program has received international recognition for its efforts in the Balkans wars.
All relief work is provided free of charge or is being sponsored by corporate businesses on behalf of Bhaktivedanta Hospital.
“As a hospital with all facilities, I feel that it is very important to reach out and extend ourselves by providing medical relief not only at our hospital, but also to the affected sites where literally tens of thousands of earthquake victims are struggling to come to terms with this calamity. Bhaktivedanta hospital is committed in making a discernible difference to the lives of our brothers and sisters in Gujurat by providing holistic healthcare that takes acre of the body, mind and soul”, says Mr. R. Talwar, Hospital Director.
February 5 — FFL Bombay recently put together a major Earthquake Relief effort consisting of food relief and medical aid. Their camp site is located at: Rapar, 45 kilometers from Bhuj, Gujarat.
Food for Life:
Five truck loads of ingredients were sent. 5000 plates of hot, nutritious prasadam (sanctified vegetarian) meals are being distributed every day.
Number of volunteers: 50
Field Hospital with a operation theater is set up. Facilities for general and orthopedic surgery available. Facilities to handle possible epidemic such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, gastroenteritis, hepatitis etc.
Number of beds: 10 / Number of doctors: 50
February 2, 2001 — We have just visited our camp for prasadam distribution at Bhadreswar which is some 27 kms from Adipur. The whole area is quiet. Lots of dead bodies being burnt in heaps. Still removing bodies from debry at Anjar.
Today we began serving more than 10,000 meals of Khichadi (rice and bean stew), puri (fried bread), and sabji (vegetable curry) at our camp, and surrounding villages and at Adipur. Most of these people have lost their homes or are poor and have no work for at least the next 2-3 months. Such people require to work on daily basis and hence are in desperate need right now. We now have a team of 25 to 30 volunteers from Baroda and Vidyanagar working in a place with constant fear of further tremors and cold weather.
Report by Basughosh Das
January 28, 2001 — More than 10 tons of supplies along with 30,000 water pouches accompanied 12 Krishna monks and 15 volunteers from the community who journeyed to Bhadreswar, close the the earthquake, where they set up camp. From there the volunteers will be able to cook and serve hot meals to the surrounding villages.
The situation there is horrible. We will be trying our best to reach out to persons in remote areas. We shall keep you informed of further developments.