Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Even the fish were blown out of the water

This isn't a normal piece about the Middle East - it's about Orissa, India.

Before the cyclone hit
A friend of mine, Satyabrata Misra, who runs an organic farm and village school project there, called Native Agriculture with Sustainable Insights (NASI).

He has had his farm destroyed by the cyclone which hit Orissa in 12th-13th October this year. I'm organising a whip-round to send him some financial support to help his team clean up, rebuild, re-stock and re-plant. Before this happened, the project was healthy and doing well.

I've made a web-page with full details and also, if you so feel, it offers a chance for you to connect personally with these people by sending them a message or a donation.

This is his report.

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Satyabrata Misra
Namaskar.

It was another day of hard work.

As there is no power in the village I came to the town to check my mail. Palden, I am very happy to receive your warm letter. I am glad that you have posted our story in your Facebook page for your many noble friends. Thank you very much for taking our issue of plight with enough seriousness and care.

I am optimistic that we are going to get some positive response from your valued friends. As you have asked, here I am going to furnish you with the elaborated facts of ground reality and about the magnitude of loss that the cyclone ‘Philine’ has caused us.

NASI (Native Agriculture with Sustainable Insights) is situated in a tranquil place about a kilometer away from the village. This patch of slightly elevated land is surrounded by vast rice fields.

In the NASI campus we have four houses with brick walls and straw roof. The first one is the school for the children with classrooms, the second one is the boarding house for the children, the third one is the cow house and the last one is our living house.

The roofs of all these houses are made of bamboo and straw from our own rice field. The violent wind that blew for more that 24 hours took away almost all the straw leaving only the bamboo skeleton, allowing the heavy rain to pour into the rooms. The rain continued round the clock, destroying all the household things including books, dresses, beds and foodstuffs for everybody, including the cows.

Finally, as the cyclone continued, we had to leave NASI, leaving the animals in the cow house, to take shelter in a nearby concrete house of a retired teacher friend.  What we saw after the rain and wind stopped was not the same NASI. It was all devastated. The walls and the roof of our living house and the cow house was broken down by the fallen trees and sad there was only destruction all around.

After the Super Cyclone of 1999, with the help of your generous friends like Mal McClure, Dr. Evans and Dr. Gilbertson we managed to reconstruct the living house, cow house, buy cows and we planted a good number of fruit and other plants.

Unfortunately this situation has been repeated. Nearly one hundred teak, mango, coconut, acacia and other full-
grown trees are uprooted. These coconut and mango trees were giving us a good return every year and we had the expectation to get many thousand rupees from other trees in few more years' time.

In order to construct these above said houses we made our own bricks years ago. In this way we got the bricks at a cheaper rate and by the time the brickmaking was over we got a pond ready to have fish in it. Last year we had put varieties of sweet water fish in this pond. We had the dream to get a good return of at least 20 to 25 thousand rupees this year.

But sadly the pond was flooded and all the fishes have gone. Again the rice, the crop that feeds us for the whole year, and the grass grown for the cows, was completely washed away. We won't get any rice to eat or straw to fix the roofs and feed the cows.

Now we are going through a very difficult time, cleaning NASI bit by bit, by ourselves. There are not enough funds to spend on hired labour, there is not enough food for the animals and above all there are no resources to fix the damage caused. It was in my hour of desperation that I felt your warm presence around and thought of writing to you about this misfortune.

The relief we got from the government was just a mockery. Two packets with few kilograms of rice, biscuits, flattened rice, and a piece of plastic for the roof was what we got. The food is now consumed though the piece of plastic is helping us a lot.

I don’t have a digital camera to take pictures and send it to you. But I will see if I can borrow a camera from a friend and take few pictures. I hope this much of description is more or less enough for your friends at the moment.

We love you Palden. Thank you very much for taking care of us at this real hour of trouble. Hope you are fine and doing well.

With regards, Satyabrata

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If you wish to follow this, send them a message or donate, go here on my website. 

This is an independent, short-term, small-scale, personal, P2P disaster relief initiative, solely to help NASI through a difficult time. Otherwise my work in Palestine continues, and I shall write more about that before long.

Palden