Kerala: IAS Officer’s Facebook Campaign Is Rebuilding Flood-Ravaged Alleppey

Follow Us On

The 2018 August floods left Kerala devastated. God’s own country, blessed with picturesque landscapes and modernised development side by side, suffered an irreparable loss to one of the worst flood of the century. 483 innocent lives were enlisted in the death toll; thousands who survived were left deprived of their homes, pets and livelihood options. Rescue and relief initiatives from the government and citizens from all over the country drew headlines, however, much lesser attention was paid to the next part – rehabilitation. Away from all the limelight, an IAS officer from Alleppey, Kerala spearheaded one of the best-seen community campaigns. Krishna Teja Mylavarapu, the Sub-collector of Alappuzha, launched the ‘ I Am For Alleppey ’ campaign on Facebook, which has consistently seen help pouring in from all parts of the world to rebuild Kerala. The movement, spanning more than four months by now, has recently touched the milestone of roping in 1 lakh givers, whose gracious help has rehabilitated over 40,000 people in Kerala.

I Am For Alleppey
The poster for I Am For Alleppey

Incidentally, Teja played a pivotal role along with Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac in ‘Operation Kuttanad’ – the historic rescue operation which evacuated over 2 lakh people from Kuttanad, one of the worst flood-ravaged zones.

I Am For Alleppey
Krishna Teja wth Shri. G. Sudhakaran, Minister for Public Works and Registration, Govt. of Kerala

How ‘I Am For Alleppey’ started

Talking to Efforts For Good, Teja shared his inspiration behind this path-breaking idea. “I was determined to bring together the entire community in the rehabilitation work. But, being a non-Malayali from Andhra Pradesh, I was perplexed about the implementation,” he shares. Soon, the young administrator decided to harness the power of social media as the only resort.

It all started with a simple post on the newborn ‘I Am For Alleppey’ page on Facebook on September 14, 2018, appealing for funds for a primary healthcare centre in Kunnumma. A handful of Teja’s friends shared the post on his request. “Within six hours, a Malayali woman settled in Andhra Pradesh got in touch expressing her will to adopt the healthcare centre for 8 lakh rupees,” he recalls realising how a single Facebook post can tap open the gates of humanity. Startled by the power of social media, he soon chalked out a detailed plan for the rehabilitation fundraising – categorised into several focal areas as mentioned ahead.

I Am For Alleppey
A house restored by I Am For Alleppey

No monetary transaction; Only a facilitator

The way Teja details the entire scheme of operation of ‘I Am For Alleppey’, reveals his earnest dedication in this project. One cannot help but be amazed by the foresight with which he is piloting the momentous movement. Perhaps one of the most heartwarming aspects of the movement is that ‘I Am For Alleppey’ does not involve any monetary transaction. “We only act as a facilitator or mediator between the donors and the beneficiaries,” Teja humbly states how much good can come out of sheer zest for service to humanity.

I Am For Alleppey
The focal areas of I Am For Alleppey

Ranging from women, children, senior citizens, specially-abled individuals to fishermen – everyone in Alleppey has immensely benefitted from the campaign, some way or the other.

I Am For Alleppey
Healthcare camps

Requesting help for healthcare

One of the main concerns after any natural calamity is healthcare, due to huge chances of the outbreak of an epidemic. But Krishna Teja’s acumen and strategical planning have successfully prevented that in Alleppey. He has divided the ‘help for healthcare’ into distinct categories, each catering to a particular section of the population. Be it women and child rehabilitation, senior citizen medical care or rehabilitation for specially-abled individuals, ‘I Am For Alleppey’ has brought forth many smiles.
“Around 700 differently-abled persons, whose wheelchairs, crutches or even artificial limbs were damaged by the floods, were refurbished with the accessories they needed,” informs Teja.

I Am For Alleppey
Medical camps for all

Four medical camps were conducted in and around Kuttanad, with special check-up facilities for senior citizens, who were also provided with protein supplements for four months.  

In general, 20 public medical camps have been organised so far, which played a major role in averting the outbreak of any deadly disease. “We are also ensuring all sorts of palliative care for the critical patients,” he states.

The idea of appealing to people to adopt primary health centres has been a remarkable success; generous contributions pouring in from the adopters are giving rebirth to clinics which were reduced to rubble.


Women and family rehabilitation

The women and family rehabilitation programme deserves a special mention. “We have facilitated the coordination between NGOs and corporates with the local panchayats. Women are being given utensils and household items of daily need. In fact, for many, the damage expenditure has been replenished,” shares Teja.

I Am For Alleppey
Distribution of kitchen items

Help from the film industry

In this context, the infrastructural rehabilitation efforts by ‘I Am For Alleppey’ must be highlighted, which saw the active participation of the who’s who of the Southern film industry. “We will be forever grateful to Team Bahubali who came forward to construct five houses in Alleppey. Our Facebook posts brought together hundreds of people who helped construct over 500 houses,” Teja shares with a glint of pride.

I Am For Alleppey
40,000 school kits were distributed

Over 40,000 student kits (bags, books and stationery) were distributed among students, alongside the construction of 20 computer labs. Toilets are also being rebuilt in many schools.

I Am For Alleppey
A rebuilt school

Teja informs, “So far 60 Anganwadis have been adopted by well-wishers, including 10 by Telugu superstar Allu Arjun.” Scholarships and bicycles were also doled out among young learners.

I Am For Alleppey
Movie posters mentioning I Am For Alleppey

‘Donate A Cow’ has fostered many smiles

Thanks to all the ‘Donate A Cow’ appeals on Facebook, livestock rehabilitation is another domain witnessing significant progress. Teja himself has gone from door to door with his team, identifying 133 families who have lost their cattle and other farm animals. “Till date, 76 people have been given cows, all with proper insurance and free maintenance cost of a month. The best part is that, most of the cows were pregnant, and now they have given birth to offsprings, providing more potential income for the families,” he informs, sharing snippets about a family with a dilapidated home and fragile dreams, who found hope anew when their cow gave birth to calves.

I Am For Alleppey
Krishna Teja at a cow donation event

Aside from cows, 150 goats have also been handed over to the fishermen’s wives, who are overwhelmed to be offered an independent source of livelihood, for the first time. New poultry sheds with fresh flocks of chickens or ducks can be found again in rural homes of Kuttanad, all thanks to donors from all over India and even abroad.

I Am For Alleppey
Happy families who received cows

The brave Kerala fishermen

The Kerala fishermen had received nationwide accolades for their brave rescue efforts. However, little did people know that many of these superheroes, who turned down compensation from the state government, had lost their main sources of livelihood – boats and fishing nets. ‘I Am For Alleppey’ has taken up the responsibility to gift them brand new fishing nets.

I Am For Alleppey
A fisherwoman with a new fishing net

Come forward in support of ‘I Am For Alleppey’

The young and dynamic IAS officer had also paid attention towards the depleted green cover in the panoramic state. He shares, “We have started a plantation drive to replenish the green cover. Moreover, we are planting flood-resistant tree varieties which might help avert such a catastrophe in future.”

I Am For Alleppey
The green cover rehabilitation project will see plantation of 4 lakh trees

The humongous success of ‘I Am For Alleppey’ is evident from the way the local inhabitants are expressing their gratitude. Movie theatres in Alleppey are displaying the ‘I Am For Alleppey’ logo before the start of any movie. Movie posters are printing the name in bold fonts. The movement is still ongoing in full-fledged scale and the founder earnestly appeals to all readers of Efforts For Good to come forward in reinstating Kerala to her former glory and beyond.

I Am For Alleppey
I Am For Alleppey poster at the start of a movie

Also Read: A Recycling Crusader At Home, This IAS Officer Is Giving Hyderabad An Eco-Friendly Makeover

Love this story? Want to share a positive story?
Write to us: [email protected]
Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram

Let us know your thoughts on this story

Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
Work in progress

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

1,36,505 Raised
Out of 3,85,000

Share

Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

A Group Of Karnataka Women Pushes Alcoholic, Abusive Husbands & Social Stigma Aside, Earns Through Recycling Workshop

Follow Us On

At thirteen, Neela was married off to a husband much older than her. At sixteen, she became a mother, and at nineteen, she was a widow. Despite having no regular income, she was faced with the daunting task of taking care of her in-laws, her own parents and of course, her little daughter. For young Neela, life has never known a trajectory where her voice is heard and her destiny is not blamed. That was until she came under the ambit of Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation and discovered a new identity for herself. The taste of financial independence was indeed delightful for her, but her zeal to work hard for a newer, better life stood at the helm of it all.

No one has ever become poor by giving – Anne Frank

Founded by Kameshwari from Bengaluru, the foundation works with distressed women in three Karnataka villages, helping them to earn their livelihood by handcrafting a wide range of decorative or daily-use household items. Like Neela, nineteen women with struggles similar or worse, have found a new lease of life at Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation. Every piece of item created at Hosa Belaku is recycled from leftover fabrics, paper, dry waste or scrap metals.

Hosa Belaku – a new dawn

“I have been working in the social sector for the past two decades. Since 2013, I got associated with Belaku Trust, who was working with rural women in Karnataka,” shares Kameshwari, a former legal executive. 

“Most of these women were victims of alcohol abuse and harassment on the domestic front. Some were widowed, single mothers or differently-abled – making life all the more hard for them in a patriarchal society. Unfortunately, circumstances led Belaku Trust to close their operations in 2015. The women were left in a lurch,” she narrates.

Some of these women desperately pleaded with Kameshwari to let them sustain their only source of income and independence. Moved by their plight, Kameshwari resolved to do her best to help as many women as possible. Investing a sizeable proportion of her own savings, she launched the Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation in 2017.

At present, the foundation has active workshops in three villages in the suburbs of Bengaluru, namely, Halasuru, Achalu and Kadahalli. 

Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
Work in progress

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

1,36,505 Raised
Out of 3,85,000

Share

The gritty women of Hosa Belaku

At the prime of her life, Pavithra’s husband left her for another woman. Heartbroken and devastated, she was clueless about how to earn her living. The story is similar for many other women in these villagers, with careless, abusive or estranged husbands, most being alcohol addicts. The pangs of poverty would sometimes become more unbearable than the constant physical abuse by their husbands. Yet, they had no way to have some respite from the ordeal. Few women did work seasonally as agricultural labourers. The backbreaking toil in the sun would take a toll on their health, while the deplorable situation at their homes would haunt them for the rest of the year.

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

Kameshwari mortgaged her jewelery for Rs 6 lakh to start Hosa Belaku Artisian's Foundation. Most of the women employed in this foundation face domestic violence in their homes. Kindly donate here : bit.ly/hosabelaku

Posted by Efforts For Good on Sunday, July 21, 2019

Society, with its primitive doctrines, only made it worse for these women. For instance, nobody was willing to marry Shivlingi because she had a facial deformity. After a point, her own brothers abandoned her as if she had become a liability.

If one visits these women now, they would be found basking in their newfound success with Hosa Belaku. But, not only the women, Hosa Belaku’s workforce comprises a 19-year-old young man as well. All his life, Yogi, who is affected by Polio, had accompanied his mother everywhere. She used to work with the foundation until she recently passed away in an accident. Yogi’s father is visually-challenged, so the entire family received a major emotional and financial setback after his mother’s sudden demise. A helpless Yogi would painstakingly drag himself from door to door in search of work. “We took him in and trained him in toy-making. Now you would find him in a corner, making beautiful toys for children,” shares a proud Kameshwari.

Sunshine, Lamp and Dawn – Illuminating lives

The women groups at the three villages are designated with three unique names and assigned with a unique task each. Kirana (Sunshine), the group at Kadahalli is involved with paper products, making notepads, bags and jewellery.

The Halsuru group Deepa (Lamp) has adopted the art of block printing. Vibrant, stylish and beautiful handbags, cushion covers, stoles and notebooks are curated with the utmost care and precision by the women.

At Ushe (Dawn), needle and thread rules. Women who were already skilled in sewing and embroidery now earn by making stuffed toys, patchwork products and embroidered fabrics.

True to their names, the groups have indeed brought new light into the lives of their employees.

Suma and Jayamma are both senior workers at Kirana who have succeeded in constructing small concrete houses for themselves, a huge step up from the dilapidated huts they spent their youth in. Another aged lady in the same group has another compelling achievement to be proud of. Bearing the taunts and trauma from her drunkard husband all her life, she has single-handedly raised a son and a daughter with proper education. Her son, who is currently an aspiring engineer, was supported with a laptop from Hosa Belaku. Honamma, a young widow from the group Deepa is treading a similar path, raising her son all on her own.

The only solace

How much gratitude these women have towards Hosa Belaku is perhaps evident from Shri’s unwavering dedication. Diabetes is taking a toll on her eyesight yet she refuses to give up and continues etching her grit on the ornate block-printed fabrics.

The reason for such gratitude is manifold. For the conscious urban consumers, Hosa Belaku is striving to save the environment with their 100%-recycled policy. But, for the workers, it is the lifeline which not only offers them economic security but also allows them a place to voice, share and resolve the problems plaguing their lives.

“They come here and find a peaceful break from their household obligations. Some still face domestic violence regularly, the workshop is an escape for them. They discuss their issues and try to find feasible solutions. It takes the load off their tired minds. The work here is a breath of fresh air for them,” Kameshwari asserts.

“We have been assisted time and again by established non-profits and retail chains across Bengaluru, who have graciously showcased and marketed products made by our artisans. We would like more people to know about Hosa Belaku and its incredible women, and respect their brilliant spirit by purchasing their crafts,” Kameshwari expresses her wish.

Let us know your thoughts on this story

Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
Next Click right arrow to read the next story Previous