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Emergency aid for vulnerable cyclone-hit families

Renee Schreurs

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My Name is Kumar provides a home and education to 37 children in the South of India who would have otherwise have been forced into begging. Attending the best private school in the city of Chengalpattu, we arm the children with knowledge. We believe education is the most effective tool to break the vicious cycle of poverty.

Londor begging community 

The 'Londor' begging community is a community of 400 people – 270 of whom are children. The community suffers a high rate of violence, abuse and harmful addiction and at an extremely young age children are forced by their parents to beg. More often than not the money children ‘earn’ is used to fuel the alcohol and drug addictions of their parents. The environment they live in is unsafe and volatile, and for some it can feel like there is no way out. They get married at the age of 15, are likely to start drinking themselves and the cycle continues.

Over the past few days, across the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, rains have wreaked havoc. There are reports of over 150 people who have lost their lives and thousands stand to lose their homes. Whole communities have been evacuated, vehicles can be seen floating down the street, schools and colleges have been shut down, and total chaos has taken over the state capital making it difficult for aid to be sent to remoter parts of the state.

In addition to the astonishing rain, a few days ago a cyclone struck the community where the parents of the children live. Already in a damaged state the houses are now so unsafe to stay in that families have had to leave. They have no access to food, dry clothes or blankets and are unable to find alternative shelter by themselves. During the terrible weather they cannot go to ‘work’, which means their previous tiny income is now non-existent.

Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the disease and illness that the weather is brings, and without the medical supplies and fresh blankets available these people are incredibly vulnerable.

While our focus at My Name is Kumar is on taking care of the 37 children who live with us, we believe we have a duty to the community and their families as well. So, when we heard about their awful experiences we decided to help them in whatever way we can.

So far we have found a safe shelter for some of the community, and are providing them with 3 meals a day, clothes, blankets, medicine and umbrellas. We are also making sure they have homes to go back to when the bad weather stops and are trying our best to ensure the buildings do not collapse and are safe to live in.

However, this means that instead of the usual 37 mouths needing to be fed, we have 225 mouths all needing 3 hot meals a day and extra care to keep them safe.  

In 3 days time there will be another cyclone which will hit the area leaving more people destitute and in need or urgent support.

We urgently need your help to be able to continue our usual activities and respond to the disaster too.