Kochi’s Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium buzzed with activity on Sunday morning — boxes flew from one volunteer to another, and there were stacks of food, utensils and clothes all around.
Welcome to the base camp of Anbodu Kochi — Kochi, With Love — a Facebook group born in 2015. Back then, floods brought Chennai in neighbouring Tamil Nadu to a standstill. Now, Anbodu Kochi’s initial nine-member team has swollen to a 2,000-strong volunteer force working across Kerala, which has been ravaged by torrential monsoon rain and floods.
In the Kochi stadium, 500 volunteers pack relief materials into cartons destined for relief camps. “We are doing what we can and helping people,” said Roychan, a college student.
But not all the material goes directly to relief camps; Anbodu Kochi puts together packages of food and clothes, wrapped in plastic cling sheets, for the Navy to airdrop.
“We have been at this for three days now,” said Lakshmi, a physiotherapist who came to Kerala on vacation. “We have also been sending stuff [in]…lorries across various parts of Ernakulam,” she said, referring to Kochi’s district.
While there’s no dearth of willing volunteers, Anbu Kochi could certainly use more relief material. “Women are in dire need of undergarments and clothes,” said Poornima Indrajit, a TV anchor. “We are running short of supplies as they have to go to various relief camps as well.”
“The problem is the availability of materials [and] godowns and [the fact that] manufacturing plants are closed due to flooding. People are unable to make things,” said MG Rajamanikam, a former Ernakulam district collector. “That is why we need to depend on neighbouring states. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are helping us in a big way.”
Kerala is battling the worst floods it has faced in a century; hundreds have died, and lakhs are in relief camps.
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