Pawan Varma’s ‘When loss is gain’, which I just finished reading brought forth an interesting commentary on how many of us view life and especially deal with loss, trauma and sorrow. Some of us withdraw from life’s small pleasures, believing that it was our unquenchable desire that led to disappointment and loss. Others place their faith in a higher being, and yoyo between God and self pity. A few do learn to move on, finding pleasure and comfort in life. From what I have seen, moving on has a lot to do with showing the door to our infamous companion- the ego so that we can try new things, savour fresh experiences and live again.
For the residents of the slum in project Jalti Jhopdi (do visit our facebook page to like and contribute) however, picking up the threads of life at present is all about dealing with practicalities-rebuilding their homes, finding utensils and clothes, food. They don’t talk about the trauma and the sorrow, but it is there just under the skin covered up with all the urgency of the raw needs of human life.
In two days we have seen a mixed response from people to our appeal for help. A few driven individuals have offered their time and taken initiative, taking care to understand needs and mobilising resources. Others have contributed money and things selflessly and with speed. Many are yet to respond, failing to gather the empathy needed for an act of charity.
Our group is focusing on specific forms of help (kiddie slippers, terracotta pots to store water, temporary tenting to give kids a roof over their heads are on their way to being done and we are targeting utensils as well; another group has teamed with the local mosque to provide gas cylinders, food, clothes, etc). We are facing roadblocks in identifying appropriate material for their roofs and walls. We need low cost, safe, non flammable, light sheets of material that can be tied to the bamboo frames that have already been erected on site. If anyone knows of how to do this, please contact me.
Other roadblocks are toilets and sanitation, plus some sort of cooperative banking system that can help them keep their little amounts of cash safe and provide them credit for specific needs. Addressing these is a long term project, but the opportunity to provide them better shelter should be tapped. Ideas are welcome!