Like Batman and Superman, the fishermen of Kerala are the real 'superheroes of the flood'
by Biju Veticad

The police asked the parishes to summon boats and crew. The government offered reparations to the fishermen for loss of earnings but they politely refused: "We do not want to be paid for saving our brothers and sisters". Almost 3 thousand fishermen rescued more than 65 thousand people. 


Changanacherry (AsiaNews) - Hollywood has Batman, Superman and Spiderman. We the Keralites have, Fishermen…the real heroes of recent flood. It was on 16th August at 8 pm, Fr Justin Jude at Vizhinjam (Trivandrum Latin diocese) got a call from Police office in Vizhinjam.. They required 10 boats and some fishermen on emergency basis. The parish, which is in a coastal area in Trivandrum, has a public announcement system. As major part of parishioners are fishermen who goes to sea, important announcements on climate are given through this announcement system. As soon as this requirement came from Police department, Fr Justin made an announcement on the need. He along with some of his parish council reached the harbour and they were surprised to see 50 boats and its personnel ready to sail. All of them were ready in 15mts of announcements.

Yes, whole Kerala witnessed a brave and generous action from the Fishermen. According to the Ministry of Fishery Department, 2826 Fishermen were engaged in rescue operations in Kerala during the flood between 15th and 19th August. The beurocracy is kept apart in India when emergency happens.. Good people come out to save others. Even the Government system always go in hand with volunteers in this type of situations…Public service can never fill up the needs of the time.. In four days of uninterrupted rains and opening of dams, fishermen alone saved 65000 people across Kerala.

It’s to be appreciated the whole hearted support from the dioceses of Trivandrum, Kollam and Alappzha (all coastal areas in Kerala). The bishops of these dioceses having a good number of parishes in coastal areas coordinated within no time, in sending fishermen to different parts of Kerala. I should recognize my first-hand experience of meeting a good team from Vizhinjam to Changanacherry in search of isolated persons in Kuttanadu in Alappuzha district.

These people are very ordinary and mostly poor people. Often they are on off-seas for more than 3 weeks continuously for their work. Who else could resist the heights of water flow which flooded cities as well as the interior villages. People were abandoned. Thousands of people were living on the terrace for 2-3 days waiting to receive help from different rescue teams. At the end of operations, as these fishermen were absent from their work for a week, Kerala government announced a contribution of 3000 rupees (circa 38 euro) per day. But, gently the group of fishermen declined the offer announcing that they don’t want a pay for having saved our own brethren.

Of course, along with fishermen, there were National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) of 58 teams reached Kerala different parts of India, like that of Odisha, Punjab, Maharashtra, Dingy and many other states. All joined hands with the Kerala Police Department. One may wonder, how the government and other Institutions like Catholic dioceses or other Religious sectors. Within no time, the control rooms were opened in whole 14 districts from where Hundreds of young volunteers coordinated complete list of requests reaching from every nook and corner of Kerala. Thousands and thousands had to be evacuated from the flooded area. Now, it’s the time to return to homes for many. All the abandoned houses are covered in mud and dirt. But they are not alone. Today, I had accompanied a group of 40 youth (belonging to Jesus Youth – the only Pontifically approved laity association in India) who were moving to Pathanamthitta in Cleaning operations. Along with the cleaning materials, all of them carried a good heart like a Good Samaritan, as the group had literally called themselves.

 

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