Rebuilding Lives In Kerala

Rebuilding Lives In Kerala

Sabitha, Savithri, Thankamma and Annamma have quite a few things in common. Their houses were either completely or partially destroyed in the landslides that occurred after multiple days of heavy rainfall in October 2021.

The rainfall caused rivers and reservoirs to swell, flooding the surrounding areas. The flood and landslides damaged houses, roads and left many stranded without phone connectivity and electricity.

Soon after, Oxfam India launched its ‘Kerala Landslide and Flood Response Programme 2021’. Through this 2771 families received dry rations containing necessities such as rice, potatoes, salt, sugar, and tea; hygiene kits that consisted of buckets, mugs, masks, soaps, water purification tablets, sanitary napkins, etc; and shelter kits comprising fleece blankets, mosquito nets, etc. In addition, 144 wells were treated with dewatering and chlorination.

These are the stories of the four women who received food, hygiene and shelter kits.

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Sabitha Satyam, a 27-year-old Dalit woman lives in Kollamula village in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district with her husband, mother and two sons - a newborn and a toddler. The family lost their house in a landslide after which they had to live in a camp with four other families.

Her husband was a daily wage worker, the main source of income for the family. They were reliant on an annual income of INR 18,000. Her husband lost his job during the pandemic, resulting in financial hardships for the family. The family is struggling in terms of being able to access nutritious food. Sabitha also needs proper medication.

Through Oxfam India’s flood response programme, they received food and relief kits. The provisions in the kit helped them manage their nutrition requirements for a few months.

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Fifty-six year old Savithri is a dalit living in Kollamula village in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala with her husband and daughter. Her daughter Soumya is living with polio and cerebral palsy. Her husband is a person with an intellectual disability. Since Savithri has to care for them all day, she cannot go out to work. The family is struggling financially as they have no source of income.

Their home was partially damaged by a landslide and since it is located in a risk zone, they could no longer stay there. They are now staying in a camp with three other families.

The food and relief kits provided by Oxfam gave them some respite from their daily situation. Due to their financial situation, they did not have money to buy food. The kits provided them with the necessities that helped them get through this crisis.

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Annamma Thomas is an 81-year-old woman from Koottickal in Kottayam district, Kerala. She is a widow who suffers from kyphosis and both her sons are persons with intellectual disabilities that prevent them from social interactions. The family is classified as Below Poverty Line and has to survive on an income of 16,000 rupees on an annual basis. Her home was partially damaged by a landslide and the road near the house was damaged as well.

The food and relief kits she received were of immense support to her. The provisions of the food kit were rich in quality, especially beneficial for a family struggling with multiple health issues.

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Thankamma Mundan is a 60-year-old Dalit widow from Kollamula village in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district. She lives alone and relies on cattle rearing and financial support from relatives to make her ends meet. She also depended on aid from government and non-governmental organisations.

The financial support she was receiving from relatives came to an abrupt end when they lost their jobs during the pandemic. When the floods occurred, the ensuing landslide damaged a part of her house.

She received food and relief kits from Oxfam India, which helped to sustain her. She benefited from the food kit and blanket provided to her. She is especially grateful for the water purification pills, as she had been experiencing ailments since the water available for bathing was impure.

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