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Massive Floods in India: Rahat Calling

Massive Floods in India: Rahat Calling

Working in disasters for two decades now.. we know that poverty is the biggest ongoing disaster for a big majority in India. And natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, cyclones only worsen their misery. When unprecedented floods hit Kerala last year it wreaked havoc in the lives of over 1 million people.  Goonj stepped in for the first time in Kerala and took up massive relief and rehabilitation work, that’s still going on. Like most disasters women were the mostly badly affected here, especially the one’s from financially weaker communities. They bore the biggest brunt of sustaining the lives of their families.


Goonj started working on livelihood of affected women from remote villages of Kottayam, Kollam, Idduki and Wayand districts. Focusing on women from weaker economic background or housewives, single mothers or women into low scale fishing businesses badly affected by floods.We set up a stitching unit to help revive their livelihood. In most cases, due to lack of proper space, these women were stitching at home. They collectively hunted for rented spaces to continue their work unhampered.


 Goonj Kerela team mobilized them to work together and nudged them to find a source of sustenance.  Goonj set up stitching centers in different localities with over 43 stitching machines and raw material as cloth and other accessories needed like scissors, tailoring machines, threads, motors, tables, old clothes, Needles, glass beads etc.


With the help of a local partner organization basic training was also provided for few women to make them self reliant. Today, these women are charting out their own way,  working collectively to re-build everything from scratch. Their small scale enterprise of making and selling their finished products (Nighties, Petticoats, Blouse, Jholas, underskirts and Churidars) has triggered many ripples of changes. These women are now more financially empowered.. many getting their first time earning opportunity. In many cases, women are venturing out and planning to upscale it by opening up their own shops as well!

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Chendamangalam(Handloom Society)
Chendamangalam(Handloom Society)

Stacks of white Mundus and Thorthu were ready for the Onam festivals when floods swept over the lives of the weavers of Handloom Society, Chendamangalam in Ernakulam.  

Looms and raw material lie destroyed in their weaving units and loads of finished goods was also spoilt beyond use. It was a picture of devastation.. their looms,bundles of yarn, finished products.. lying damaged all around. Speaking to them a distressed local shared “I started weaving when I was 12 years old and it has been more than 50 years since. We do not even have the basic amenities now and income can be generated only once we start producing finished goods that can be sold in the market.”


Our team visited them in Chendamangalam we started with reaching relief packs together with basic Tool Kits to help the community get back on its feet and to help them repair their looms.

3 months later,visiting them again we met with many smiling faces and stories. Many woman shared how they had used the tool kits to repair their handloom machines and many other things. “The nails, hammer etc. in the kit was really useful in repairing things in our house. Getting these things at a time when we had lost everything meant a lot to us." said a woman weaver. Supporting sustenance, Goonj reached comprehensive Goonj Relief Material Kits with Tool Kits to over 140 women weavers.


The People of Kayalpuram, Kuttanad in the backwaters of Alleppey (Kerala) need no introduction.. Alleppey is after all the true representation of Kerala, God’s Own Country.. BUT it was also one of the worst affected by the Kerala floods in 2018. The boatmen families who use these waterways like we use roads were finding it tough to move as weeds (pola) were choking their canals. More than 100 villagers cleaned a 1000 ft × 25 ft canal connected to the backwaters in return of which they received carefully designed “Relief kits” for their efforts.


Similarly in Vaikom village (Kottayam, Kerala) families who are into coir making, fishing and farming proved that the hands that know hard work will never be happy with charity .. They collectively cleaned their flood ravaged road, temple and school compound and received comprehensive “Relief Kits” as a reward for solving their own problem.


Till date Goonj has reached out to over 75,000+  families across 10 districts of Kerala with its relief and rehabilitation work and has restored many flood affected schools, aanganwadis, public places and damaged roads after the floods.  


Backwater cleaning-before
Backwater cleaning-before
Backwater cleaning- After
Backwater cleaning- After
Family kits
Family kits
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Dear Friends,

Now the rains bother me. Its not the same..We used to love it..we still do but now even if it rains for an hour the memories of those few weeks of complete turmoil comes back.. this is not a friend's story but of many..

Rivers, dams and back waters are a part of the life of people of Kerala but this was unimaginable. I am a witness…saw Kochi flooding on August 15th, the roads, houses, airport submerged and how the relief hub for larger Kerala itself became an island - totally cut off and sugar-salt becoming a luxury for us.

People from all walks of life did their best; CEO’s to school children joined our campaign-

'Kerala Calling'…loading and packing material even at 2 in the morning. People collected money and need based material - all across the country and beyond. Then there are people arranging tea and kachoris for volunteers to organizing space in emergency. There were some bad apples as well.. losing patience, using rude language to sending rotten and unwanted materials.. but it stood no match to the Good that came through. 

A sincere thanks from the entire team Goonj to the hundreds of people who have built up this movement. Thank you for standing with us and believing in our value system of not using demeaning words like victim and beneficiaries for the disaster hit. Now we are there with a full-fledged team with a long term plan. Here is a comprehensive report of work done till date. Do read and share it with everyone who joined you in the campaign.


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Community members carrying their kits
Community members carrying their kits

Floods in Kerala and some other states shook up all of us. News of massive devastation or warnings of the same are coming in from Uttarakhand and Odisha  while relief work is still needed in flood hit Assam and other parts of northeast. It not only reminds us of how vulnerable we are in front of nature’s fury but more importantly of how important it is to stand by each other in our toughest times.

Relief material from Goonj Offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai & Delhi were sent to our hubs in Cochin, Wayanad and Changanassery in Kerala. The three hubs are centrally located, and are equally equipped to handle the relief operations. And for other states we are operating from nearest offices to the affected area.

These materials are then systematically turned into need based relief material kits by our team and volunteers and then reached out to the last people through our own teams, local partner organizations, agencies and volunteers. We are reaching individuals and institutions on a large scale filling material gap like ration, cleaning material, clothing, and other essentials which collected from masses or purchased.

Goonj’s family kits are not static and are revised and changed to match the immediate need of people affected by floods. Some of the items we intend to include- set of cooking and serving utensils, blanket and bed sheets, clothing and new under garments, sanitary pads, dry ration, tarpaulin, mats, cooker and occupational need items like fishing net, farming tools etc. It’s important to mention that we take average family size of 6 and try to take care of most of their material needs which makes this a big Family Kit.

As the water recedes, the journey from relief camps to a normal life is going to be a long one. This is the time when the world’s attention starts to shift slowly while the need for rehabilitation and sustained relief further amplifies.

In this phase, Goonj is focusing on filling gaps in material needs of people with reaching out carefully made comprehensive family kits to communities and geographies in the state. 

Gradually, the focus on rebuilding & reviving community structures like reapir and cleaning of roads, water bodies, bridges, schools to support the communities to get back to normalcy. Disaster-hit communities participate and receive family kits as a reward in the rehabilitation phase.

Your continued support is critical at this stage.. Your monetary contribution will help us sustain the relief work and gradual transition to rehabilitation by involving the local flood affected communities in taking charge of their lives.

Truck load of relief material being dispatched
Truck load of relief material being dispatched


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Organization Information


Location: New Delhi, Delhi - India
Project Leader:
Anshu Gupta
New Delhi, Delhi India

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