I spent both Thursday and Friday at the same distribution hub doing some assembly line-style work, making packages of uncooked food and then loading the thousands of sacks onto trucks. Nothing like six hours of some good old repetitive, monotonous tasks to get the blood flowing – but hey, those packets of turmeric weren’t going to separate themselves.
I’m so glad I came to Chennai, though, it was pretty cool to be part of such a large force of people, all trying to improve the lives’ of others. It was grassroots organizing at its finest, for sure – and there’s nothing I love more than a little organizing and activism. Everyone – from 6 year-olds to 80 year-olds was working together, side by side, to make a difference. And it was so refreshing to see everyone put aside politics and simply join forces for a common goal. I love that stuff. In addition, I’ve been featured on 3 local news stations – everyone wants an interview with the white girl. I’m basically a celebrity.
Finally, thanks to those of you that donated on my fundraising page. There’s still a few days left if you still want to contribute – I’ve used the money that was donated to date ($265) to buy flip flops and mosquito repellent. These were two needs that were glaring and weren’t well-covered by other recovery teams (at least according to my observations). All of the standing water means that mosquitoes are absolutely everywhere…which means a rise in malaria and dengue. Also, during my time at the clinic I saw how many people were barefoot and coming in to get wounds treated on the bottoms of their feet. I purchased the products and left with a locally run NGO to distribute – there’s nothing that annoys me more than a foreigner coming in and throwing money and supplies around without knowledge of the area, language, slum culture, etc. It’s so much better to come from one local to another. In total, you guys helped me provide 250 pairs of flip flops and 1,000 mosquito coils. So awesome!! 🙂
I’ll spend my last day in Chennai visiting with friends and checking out the city, and then I will head back to Bangalore tonight – back to the real world. I’ve got some apartment searching to do, some job interviews to ace, some Kannada lessons to learn and some Christmas shopping which I can no longer put off. Oh…and since I’ve eaten my weight in dosa, chicken curry and ghee this week, I suppose some running is in order as well.
Check out some pics from my final days at the relief center below.
This main road is still under about 6 inches of water. This was taken on Friday.
This is one of the side roads in Kotturpuram, near the clinic. I snapped it from the window of my Uber on the way to the relief center. This was taken on Friday.
Packing boxes of oil, rice, spices, etc.
Once the materials above are sorted from the boxes and bagged up, they come sit, waiting to be delivered. I spent the entire day Friday moving the bags in a human chain into this room after they were packed.
Volunteers taking a break on the lawn and having some snacks (aka high school study hall).