After Aila: Cooking for the needy in India

By Caritas India partners Seva Kendra Calcutta (SKC)

When our team visited Kalinagar on 9 June 2009, we found the community kitchen at Kalinagar was in full swing. This community kitchen is set up in the house of Bharat Bhanj’a, a young man in his late thirties. His house is some one km away from Nazat – the last point where four wheel drives can travel. From Nazat, one needs to take a short ferry ride and then a 5 minutes rickshaw van journey to reach Bhanj’a house.

Bhanj’a house is on the left side of a land. To our dismay, the houses on the right side were under two feet water. It is a concrete house where Bhanj’a lives with his wife and children. His brother also stays in the same house.

We found sacks of rice and bulgar stacked on his veranda. The small courtyard was transformed into a makeshift kitchen, with temporary brick ovens laid and people busy preparing the lunch.

There are seven members in Bharat Bhanj’a family. Yet in spite of the inconvenience he agreed to let his house be used as the community kitchen, since that was the only high land available.

Except bulgur and cooking oil; which is provided by CRS (a Caritas member in the USA), the other ingredients are purchased from the local market.

At Kalinagar, flood-affected people have taken shelter at mainly four places: Proper Kalinagar College, Ghoshpur Akshsya Higher Secondary School, Ghoshpur Adivasi F. P. School, and Kalinagar Daspara–ICDS.

Initially there were around 900 people in total at these places, but later it increased to more than 1,500. The cooked food is delivered to these places by rickshaw van. Around 40 volunteers of Ghoshpur Debasish Sebashram Sangha are constantly working to manage the entire food preparation and distribution.

Dipendra Burman, from the organisation, informed us that apart from kichdi, 1,060 pieces of lungi, local towels (gumcha), saree cloth as well as biscuits and sugar have also been distributed among affected people in Ghoshpur in Kalinagar and Boro Sehara, Purba Bholamali, Pashchim Bholamali in Sehara Radhanagar Panchayats.

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Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, India

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