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

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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

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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It's not how much we give
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