Restoring Normalcy in Bakshupally (Orissa)
“Can I ever repair these broken walls or even try to rebuild my home?” yelled Thotamma, as Cyclone Phailin devastated the lives of people living in coastal Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. These places were battered by the incessant rains accompanied by the intense wind that blew at150 mph uprooting hundreds of trees, destroying homes and blowing away everything that came in its path. Today so many are homeless as their houses got destroyed and many houses are without a roof. Thousands of people were left with nothing except the clothing they were wearing when they had to rush out of their homes in order to save their lives.
Forty five year old Thotamma and her husband live at New Bakshupalli, near Gopalpur, Ganjam District – Orissa. People were evacuated to a safer place on 12th October, 2013 by the government. The next day, when Thotamma along with the others went back to see her house, she could find nothing but the broken mud walls. All their clothes with most of their belongings had been washed away.
The sad part was Thataiah, Thotamma`s husband, was physically challenged but still he would go fishing and earned a small income for the family. This tragedy affected him so much that he went into deep depression; he just could not accept the damage the cyclone had caused and refused to do anything to get his home in order. Thotamma did manual labor work, tried her best to earn some money for her family as she had no other support or any other source of income and her earnings were not sufficient even to provide for their basic needs. Her only daughter was married and lived in another village. Her husband’s mind was unstable and she was worried as how she was to cope in this hopeless situation all alone.
Operation Blessing India’s (OBI) disaster relief team was doing relief work in Orissa; in addition to this they also surveyed the entire place and identified the excessively damaged areas that needed immediate help. Bakshupalli was one of the places where OBI did the relief work. The team also had medical camps where Thotamma and many other victims received free medical treatment. Thotamma’s family along with 53 other families received support from OBI. All the families received saris, towels, a provision/necessities kit (containing 4kgs rice, 1kg pulses, 1ltr oil, chilly powder, turmeric powder, bath soap, washing soap and tooth paste) and a tarpaulin sheet. Thotamma was delighted to receive all this as she could immediately work on setting up her home and restoring some kind of normalcy in their lives.
Thotamma was given hope in the midst of all these bitter experiences and though it could take a while, she was sure that she and her husband would get back on their feet. Many of the villagers were truly blessed with the relief supplies they received from Operation Blessing India and they felt like a huge burden was lifted off their backs. Thotamma and Thataiah join the other villagers in thanking OBI for their timely help and support.