Earth Quake Relief efforts

Pastor Andrew Prakasam was there in a  couple of the devastated state of Gujarat..

On the morning of 26th January 2001, at about 8:47 AM which happened to be Republic Day, the western part of India was rocked by a series of earthquakes. The Rann of Kutch in Northern Gujarat heaved and collapsed by the earthquake that was recorded 6.9 in the Richter scale, while China recorded 7.4 and the U.S. measured 7.9, due to different methods of calculations. But no scale could possibly measure the magnitude of the desolation and sorrow that the killer quake left behind in the villages and towns of Gujarat. Villages have been reduced to rubble and ruins leaving the survivors homeless, and having come to terms with death and disaster.

"I was just getting ready to go to work. My wife and children were in the kitchen.  Suddenly, the ground where we were standing begin to rock under our feet there was a great sound for a few seconds and it became quite as we ran out”, said Mr. Patel, who lost everything that he had but gained his family.  His whole house crashed down and now his family live in the jungle near by. 

"Tragedy, disaster, destruction demolition were written all over the earthquake stricken state of Gujarat. As we traveled from City to City, town to town, village to village, we were horrified to hear their heart-breaking stories. What we saw cannot be described or expressed."

Summary of the earthquake in India

State: Gujarat
Areas Affected:  
Bhuj, Bachau, Gandhidam, Moorbie, Surendra Nagar, Ahemadabad
Estimated Loss of Life:    About 150,000 people
Estimated Number of People Affected:    300,000
Number of Relief Agencies:    150
5 fold relief strategy:
1.    Review the earthquake hit areas
2.    Immediate Relief supply 
3.    Build Relationships with Govt. offcials and native people 
4.    Rehabilitate 
5.    Restore  Places Reviewed:   
Bhuj, Bachau, Gandhidam, Moorbie, Surendra Nagar, Ahemadabad
Emergency Relief Supplied to:         Moorbie and Gandhidam
Items Supplied:        
500 Blankets, 3 ton rice, 300 kgs Dhal, 300 liter Oil,
100 tents & Miscellaneous Items
Estimated Orphans:   10,000
Proposed Long Term Relief:       1 orphanage
Budget for Orphanage Buildings:        $75,000
Running cost for 3 years:       $60,000
At Ahmedabad

In Ahmedabad, the Capital of Gujarat, over 40 apartment complex, each about 10 stories high, have collapsed leaving over 2000 dead and thousands homeless.  2000 high raised buildings have cracked leaving them useless unless re-built from scratch. The City has issued an order to immediately demolish 122 high raised buildings. We could spot hundreds of people moving off to other places with their belongings in trucks, three-wheelers and even on camels.  It was a common sight to see cars, scooters, vehicles and many house-hold appliances scattered and crushed to the ground along with pieces of human bodies. The crushed buildings were removed and dumped into a common ground and here we found many children and adults, dogs and cows, feeding of the rubbles. 

Rubbles of High Raised Buildings and a capsized apartment

People live in great panic fearing the earthquake might strike the city at any time. Most of the people sleep outside in the biting cold without sufficient blankets or shelters.  Food is cooked on the road.  When we arrived in Ahmedabad, we were fortunate to get guesthouse to stay.  It was freely available.  Just before we went to bed, the pastor of the church told us that no one has slept in that five story building since January 26th except one family the last couple of days.  He also gently warned us that we are at our own risk and the building might collapse if another earthquake strikes.  He himself has been sleeping with his family inside the church building with other believers who have taken the church as a refuge.

Another heart-breaking incident melted our hearts. 70 children were getting ready to step outside to hoist the flag and celebrate the Republic Day of India when the earth quaked, and the huge concrete school building fell over the children.  The children cried for almost about 18 hours calling ‘daddy’, ‘mummy’ and slowly the screams faded into eternity. All of them died a pathetic death as the parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and thousands of public watched helplessly. There were no cranes, bulldozers, or earthmovers available to pull the children from under the huge concrete rubble.

An interesting fact that surprised us was that when a person converts from Hindu, he changes his last name to Christian.  One of them was Samson Christian who has taken a totally new Christian identity and now works for the All India Christian Council.  He was a great help in directing us to the right places. 

At Moorbie
After a strenuous 6 hours drive we arrived in Moorbie. We were well received by the local earthquake relief centers.  They told us that the Government has allotted about Rs.1200 ($25) per family regardless of their size as relief money. One of the places that no relief supplies reached, was a village called horda that is part of the Moorbie town.  It is funny to understand that before the earthquake the pastors have been persecuted and thrown in prison, beaten up, bruised and no one could open a church. Tables turned – now the church brings the relief supplies, and Government has neglected help to these people.  We immediately saddled a truck full of supplies including 500 blankets, rice, oil, grain, and water and went into a village of 3000 people. We distributed all the stuff in chaotic conditions, as it was very hard to establish order.  Everyone wanted and needed the supplies. 

At Gandhidam
We also visited Ghandhidam another big town.  All the hotels, and any building over 3 stories had either cracked through the middle, or fallen down partially or fully.  90 % of these buildings need to be reconstructed.  Amazing to see out of 15 churches, not one building had fallen except for a few cracks which they said could be repaired.  1 Christian family with 2 children died along with 3 other individuals.

At Bhuj
As we traveled to the epic Center called Bhuj, a city of 150,000 people, we saw along the way great destruction.  It looked like some old, old town where no one has lived, in a long time.

In Bhuj, the buildings were just flattened and debris was found everywhere.  As we walked into Bhuj, it felt like some monster Godzilla had walked around and crushed the buildings.  The dead bodies were numerous, well over a 100,000 just in Bhuj.  We talked to Mr. Patel who is an employee of the electricity department.  All are in Chaos and still need a lot of machinery to remove the fast decaying bodies and rubbles. They have been cutting all the trees on the side of the road for wood to burn the dead bodies according to the Hindu custom.

Bhuj, the old town is completely destroyed. Over 120 help agencies have come forward and networked together to bring relief to the people.  All relief work will come to an end in about a month.

Our projects will begin after a month.  What will they do after a month? No one knows the answer.  We have come up with a long term projects for Children and widows.

    2 orphanages. One for boys and one for girls

    An old age home specially for widows, aged over 55

    A bible training Center with 50 students

    5 distribution centers – Adopting a family – Family care program

Our Five Fold Strategy:

1.    Review the earthquake hit areas

2.    Immediate Relief supply

3.    Build Relationships with Govt. officials and native people

4.    Rehabilitate

5.    Restore

1.    Review the earthquake hit areas

All the places were personally visited and we have gathered pertinent information from the Government officials where possible and also through local private agencies.  We have interviewed several families, people and religious groups to get an idea of the estimated damages.  No one person could give a full estimate of the whole quake.  Each individual gave us their account of the earthquake.  Since we went from place to place, we have gathered all the info needed for our next phase of work.

2.    Immediate Relief supply:

In our survey, we spotted the neglected areas where no help had reached them even on the 10th day after the earthquake.  We rushed immediate relief supplies including blanket, water, rice oil, and various other things loaded in a truck and went to a village near Moorbie.  No one has ever stepped there to offer any help until we reached.  Also, we bought 3 tons of rice and other supplies and had them distributed through a Church in Ghandidham where people rich and poor streamed in to collect provisions.

We also found out that tons and tons of relief supplies are held up in the airports and some even dumped on the road sides along the way.  There are not enough volunteers to distribute the provisions.  Now the Government has mobilized the army for the distribution.  Now there is an abundance of relief supplies that will last over 3 months for the victims.

3.    Build Relationships with Govt. officials and people

I will be leaving to Ahmedabad to meet the government officials to build a rapport with them.  We will offer them our help and support to the earthquake victims especially the children.  We are also requesting them to assign some land for building orphanages.  I will be meeting with all the local pastors about 40 of them to find out how they will use this opportunity to help the people of Gujarat.  Also, planning to visit the local city council to develop a working relationship with them.

4.    Rehabilitate

We will first find ways of helping the people to cope with the tragedy.  Obviously we are not the solution for all the problems.  We will be trying to port the children into a safe home where they can once again go to school and have some form of counseling and teaching to restore their spirit, soul and body.

This will take place in several stages:

A.   Identifying the children that need help

B.   Placing them in a home with other children of similar experiences.

C.   Bring them back to normalcy as soon as possible.

5.    Restore

Children will be restored to a stable, physical and mental status by providing a Home of security and love.  We have identified a piece of property, build a school, dormitory, kitchen, and all amenities for the children.

We have found potential land to build our orphanage near the City of Ahmedabad.  The land is very expensive at the moment, as there is a great demand to built one and two story houses.  The thousands of people who lived in high raise buildings are unwilling to live there any more and plan to move to flat buildings.  We are negotiating to buy two acres of land for $50.000.  We want to build 2 orphanages, one for girls and one for boys.

Budget and Building Strategy

The building of the orphanage will take place in 3 stages. 
First we will acquire the land, at least 2 acres.  With plans drawn for a 10,000Sq.ft building, we will complete the building which will be our second phase.  Third, we will add a commercial printing press, which will provide for the orphanage after 3 years totally self supportive.
Our total budget is:                 $185,000
Break Down
Land cost:                               $50,000
Building cost 10,000Sq.Ft:        $75,000
Maintenance for 3 years:          $30,000
Printing Press:                         $30,000
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