INDIA A dark Diwali

By Nalini N Paul, CARE India

The entire country is preparing to celebrate Diwali – the Indian festival of lights. So was Masamma, a 75-year-old grandmother who lives with her son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. However, fate had other plans for her as all her plans for celebrations have now been washed away along with her modest home.

Masamma lives in the village of Amaragiri, by the banks of the river Krishna. On the night of 2nd of October the already-swelling river broke its banks and flooded the entire village. These floods have caused more than 500,000 people to be displaced in Kolapur alone, out of which most are likely to be left homeless unless their houses are repaired.

“The water entered the village at around midnight,” says Masamma. “It was already raining heavily and we were indoors. Suddenly with a big noise the waters broke into my house and we were nearly swept out.”

There was a lot of commotion after that. All the villagers ran towards higher ground to save their lives. Masamma, being very old, could barely walk and had almost given up hope of surviving, but her son carried her.

The villagers spent almost two days on a hillock till waters receded. When they came down they found all their meager belongings had been washed away. Approximately two million people have been affected by the flooding all over Andhra Pradesh. The Indian government has declared it as a national emergency and relief and rescue operations are on in full swing.

In the initial phase of the emergency response, CARE is distributing hygiene kits, soap, floor mat and bed sheets, and water purification supplies to 5,000 families (30,000 people) in villages in the worst-affected districts of Andhra Pradesh.

For now, Masamma has shelved all her plans for Diwali. She only wishes for some clean clothes, drinking water and a dry place to sleep. There are millions in Andhra Pradesh and the adjoining state of Karnataka who will not have a bright Diwali this year unless we come forward and lend a helping hand.