After Aila: Feeding the 5000 in India

A meal of kichdi being prepared for those in need

A meal of kichdi being prepared for those in need

By Caritas India partners Seva Kendra Calcutta (SKC

At Sehara Radhanagar in was 1.30 in the afternoon. The word ‘Lunch’ would have been unheard off had the community kitchen not begun functioning there. On our way to the place where the community kitchen was, we saw people carrying back Kichdi (a dish of rice and lentils) in whatever utensils they had salvaged from Aila.

The area of the community kitchen was a happening place. On one side there was a primary school with an open ground with a market place and on the other there was the girls’ hostel and high school. Except for the primary school, the other buildings were under water and unfit for shelter.

We saw serpentine queue waiting to be served kichdi. Each person standing with a card in hand. This was the system that the voluntary organisation introduced to avoid confusion and ensure proper distribution of food. Each card was checked with the list of names before the person was allowed to take the food.

The community kitchen, organised by SKC in Sehara Radhanagar, is being managed by Dakshin Akhratola Swami Vivekananda Sangha. 4 cooks, 15 assistants and 50 volunteers are preparing food for over 5,000 persons in total for the last nearly 15 days.

According to a survey conducted by the organisation around 3,013 people remain in the village of the pervious 5000 (many shifted to relatives’ house). But many people from other places have also taken shelter here. Of these people, most of them are coming to the community kitchen to collect food. There are yet many more families marooned who are unable to come to collect food. The organisation is carrying food for these people on banana rafts and sometimes. Whereas many are also coming by boat to collect food.

Shymal Kumar Nath, Secretary of Dakshin Akhratola Swami Vivekananda Sangha, who is supervising the community kitchen programme, told us that kichdi is being served on six days and rice and vegetables on 1 day of the week. For 1,000 people they are using a mix of:

• 50 kg rice
• 50 kg bulgur
• 25 kg Dal
• 25 kg Potatoes
• 25 kg Pumkin
• 6 kg oil and
• Soyabean

The ingredients are being brought here from Kalinagar via boat once in three days. However the vegetable are purchased locally.

The organisation also mobilised 1,000, one-litre packaged water bottled from Hasnabad Bazar Committee, besides baby food, saris, 5 sacks of rice, 1 sack of dal and clothes for 150 children.

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Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, India

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