July 28, 2004


I have this guilty feeling being lucky among the people who are not affected in the recent flood. I am able to do nothing except donating money to the flood relief initiatives taken by the youths in all parts of the Dhaka city. They are singing in the streets and collecting donations. Many college and University students have established small camps where breads and oral saline are being prepared for the flood affected people. But the real challenge is to go to the flooded region and distribute the same. I am aware of the government's vast relief expenditures. But people doubt that whether these would reach, where they are needed most.

In 1988 Bangladesh suffered the worse flood of the decade and I was a college student then. What I did was that accumulate some fund in collaboration with the local youths (first from our sources then from other donation) and arranged some relief goods (mainly fresh bread, water, oral saline, matches and old cloths). Then we went to the remote flooded areas with boat in and around Dhaka ourselves to distribute them. Our target was to go to such places where normally govt. reliefs do not reach. I still remember one of our missions, in which we discovered that in the middle of no where some people were lurking in a rooftop, the whole house being submerged. They had not eaten for days. I cannot reproduce the feeling of joy when we could rescue them. We had to abandon such missions as they were getting dangerous and some of us (including me) coudn't swim and could easily get drowned.

I believe that now there are many distressed people to reach out. But now I am unable to engage in such ventures. I can cite many excuses like responsibility at work, responsibility for the family and above all there is a danger because I cannot swim. But I have ventured to those flood affected areas 16 years ago without thinking these.

Now I plea to the youths of Bangladesh and the NGOs to make sure that relief reaches the remotest of places. Otherwise there will be more sufferings and death. And as for the post flood-rehabilitation, the task is for the government. Those who are willing to help can donate in rehabilitation programs. But now physical presence is required more than donation.


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