My name is Ruru and I work as a marketing consultant for different companies. One of the companies I was working for before Covid-19 happened was a travel company. While working for the company, I had travelled to the Sunderbans in February with an American tourist group and had met Saptarshi Mondal, our tour guide. Saptarshi delighted us with his tales of the local folklore of Bonbibi and Dakshin Rai, was an ace bird spotter (it was like he had a pair of binoculars in his eyes) and could see through the dense jungle to locate animals, big and small, which otherwise our city eyes would have completely missed. He also helped us to see a tiger, a rare thing in the Sunderbans for tourists. Apart from his excellent knowledge of everything Sunderbans, he was a very friendly person who ensured we had a memorable time. Needless to say we liked him very much.
Then Covid-19 happened. This was bad enough for people who work in the travel industry but as if that were not enough, then Cyclone Amphan struck. Amphan ripped through the Sunderbans and uprooted the lives of many many people. Saptarshi’s village, a small hamlet of 200 families, was also struck by the cyclone. I tried calling him the day after Amphan but there was no way to reach him as all networks had been badly affected. I finally reached him a full 8 days later and came to know about the devastation his village had suffered. I was very affected by what he told me – their homes were destroyed, their dams broken or washed away, their agricultural fields inundated by sea water making it uncultivable, their fish ponds were also filled with saline water killing their fish.
This is a situation of absolute desperation, not unlike what the migrant workers had to face during the lockdown.
So I decided to do something. In the aftermath of the cyclone, I had already committed myself to volunteer relief work and had travelled to some remote parts of Bengal with relief materials. I was working with multiple groups as I wanted to convince one of these groups to bring relief to Saptarshi and his village. However, the damage done by Cyclone Amphan is so big that convincing any group to go to his village was not an easy task. Most groups operating relief operations have earmarked an area to help and this is the right approach. So, I finally decided to start my own fundraiser to help Saptarshi and his family and his village as I had already understood the logistics of a relief operation. I thought it was the only and right thing to do.
Here is a cost break-up of what I and my friends who will be assisting me on this drive will be spending the money on:
1) Dry rations (rice, dal, salt, sugar, chire, muri, chhola, chhatu, milk powder, biscuits, m oil) – Rs. 800
2) Medicines (paracetamol, norfloxin, omeprazole) and water purifier (zeoline 200) – Rs. 200
(These estimates are per family. Both are approx. but fairly accurate and won’t deviate too much, max by Rs. 100 if we decide to include something that the people need more, like sanitary pads for women or a mosquito net.)
3) Transportation of relief material to Godkhali by Chhota Hati - Rs. 10000
4) Transportation by boat to Saptarshi's village - Rs. 5000
People are coming forward to help. But more help is needed. Anything you can contribute will go a long way to help Saptarshi and his family and will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you all for your support !