By Stalin S, Caritas India
Changed childhood in a day: Children in distress in flood affected Bihar
“My parents are still in the village which is fully marooned by water and I have the responsibility of looking after my brother and sister. I have to provide food and protect them from any further danger”, said Munna (6 years) while his sister Shilu (5 years) was busy in eating biscuits that Munna had collected from the relief camp and Bhola (3 years) was asleep.
At the moment they are taking refuge in one relief camp in Madhepura. Their parents are still living inside the village as they don’t want to leave their house in the fear of losing whatever they could save from the flood.
Munna is worried about the health of Bhola, his younger brother. He made a bamboo platform for his siblings. He struggles everyday to gather some food items for all. Getting food is not a very easy task for him. He stands in the queue for a long time and visits nearby areas where some food items are being distributed.
It is not a unique story that has happened to Munna, Shilu and Bhola. The floods of Bihar have made many children come closer to as families. They have grown concerned and responsible towards their siblings and others.
These children are desperately moving from one camp to another in search of food and medical support. There are cases, where they have been denied support as they don’t have the capacity to stand in long queue and sometimes they are ignored because they are children.
Children are the first to suffer. And it is very deplorable to see that many are left orphans. They have no one to take care of them. They are suffering from fever, diarrhea and eye infections.
Caritas will be providing food and medical care to the most vulnerable, especially the children.
River Kosi: Shedding of tears
Annual floods in Bihar has become a regular event. The torment it enfolds, hardly makes any difference in the lives of the people living close to the rivers. They are living with it. They are ready to suffer and keep suffering.
But nature had something in store for Bihar. With a breach in the Kosi River, life became worse for many, especially those who had very little experience of floods in their areas.
While passing through a relief camp, it was painful to see the conditions in which families are putting up with. People desperate for relief materials, sitting for hours, in queues for food, the innocence in the faces of many children, especially those who have no clue about where is their family. The damage is done and life now will grow more difficult.
“Now I am 63 year old this is the first time I am going through this kind of a situation when I see the people especially children the way they fight here for some food and cry in hunger I feel like crying.” says Jamuna Prasad, who lives in the temporary shelter at Chakla, Madhepura.
“We don’t have food or drinking water, no cloths to change and no place to sleep but still we are living” he added.
The agony we see in the faces of the affected, expresses deprivation and solitude.
The relief measures provided to these people are not adequate to meet their needs. There are many who are marooned and untouched. Many who are still traumatized and shocked.
Efforts are being taken to bring people back to normalcy, yet the attempt seems to be very little, as the pain is intense and profound. There is anxiousness and worry in the eyes of many. With no shelter, food and clothing, life has indeed become a living exile.
The river Kosi could not contain itself and shed its tears into Bihar. It will now take its own time to dry these tears.