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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.