Crisis in West Bengal

This week I met up for coffee with an old friend of the school, Mr Ray Kancharla of Save the Children. He is just back from West Bengal, so was able to give me first-hand feedback of the horrendous state of affairs he witnessed there. He described many areas as being in a worse state than witnessed in Bihar after the flooding caused by the Kosi dam breech in August 2008.

There was a good piece of news. Compared to past severe cyclones the death toll was relatively modest as people were able to take shelter, usually in the school buildings. However, this has contributed to the relatively muted press attention to the tragedy. This, in turn, has been made worse by the apparent reduced political will to provide meaningful relief (because the state is ruled by the out of favour communists).

The result is best described in the document attached here from Save the Children:

Children_of_West_Bengal

As was the case in Bihar, so here in West Bengal, one of the biggest risks is that during all the upheaval and trauma child traffickers can reap a rich and tragic harvest.

It will probably not be too long before the monsoon arrives, by which time it is vitally important that immediate help and aid gets to these people. Then, they need longer term help to get back on their feet. The waters have still not receded. The waters are saline, meaning that supplies of drinking water have been ruined for some time. It also means that cultivation of their land won’t be possible for many months.

When school restarts I will be looking to form a group of students and/ or parents and teachers who want to organise some fund raising so that we can help out the best we can. In the meantime, if anyone wants to donate or do something more immediate, you can find all the details on the Save the Children website.

Save the Children

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