“Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o, hameen ast-o, hameen ast.” (If there is paradise on the face of earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.), so goes the verse by the 12th century poet Amir Khusro.
And indeed, that is what we think of when we think of Kashmir. Kashmir – the land of snow-capped mountains, the beautiful lakes adorned with houseboats, of bright red apples, and of course, those lovely, smiling faces that greet us. Nothing qualifies better to be called “Paradise on earth” than Kashmir.
The September of 2014, however, brought along hell to Kashmir. Unending torrents of rain poured down on the valley, leading to extensive flooding. Uncontrolled urbanization over the years meant that the water had nowhere to go and the resulting floods soon submerged the towns under a sheet of water. The same water that gives us life, was threatening to take it away from the Kashmiris. Cut off from the rest of the world, with very few means to communicate with the rest of India, they had little to look around to for help. Though the government agencies were helping out people on ground, the magnitude of the disaster meant that more and more helping hands were the need of the hour.
It was at this moment that Devik Sparsh decided to reach out to people of the valley and get help to them. We started off with collecting monetary donations, which were then used to purchase day-to-day necessities like toothbrushes, toiletries, sanitary pads etc. Realizing that clothing will also be needed, we also focused on getting people to donate clothing items for men, women and children. These were then assembled into sets for ease of distribution. Basic kitchen utensils were added so that people could cook for themselves using the other help they received. To deal with the extreme weather, warm clothing was also needed. We arranged for woolen clothes and blankets and the items for distribution were assembled into kits wrapped into blankets. This meant that a typical family receiving a kit had all the essentials it needed to survive what the disaster had thrust on them.
Of course, merely assembling and shipping the essentials was never going to be enough. Hence, a few of our members personally visited Kashmir along with the relief materials to ensure that not only did the supply reach the right hands, but also to get a better idea of what was really needed by those on ground zero. We realized that after the calamity had passed, the people needed day-to-day essentials like pediatric medicines, notebooks/notepads and other items. On return, we collected funds to arrange for these items. To ensure focused efforts and more effective results, we focused on providing assistance to 3 villages (Nowgam, Padshahi Bagh and Pulwama), to which we would send out assistance. We did this in collaboration with 2 other NGOs, namely “Helping Hands” and “Hope”. We also “adopted” one village (Pohar village in Badgaon district) to which we then sent further supplies and assistance and continue to do so as and when needed.