It seemed a normal working day for many in different parts of the nation but flooding was being reported at various places in Kerala. Soon floods were drowning the state with hapless brothers and sisters crying for help. Social media was also flooded with news of devastating floods, landslides creating a turmoil in Kerala. RSS Swayamsevaks/volunteers, rescue forces were already working on ground rescuing people to safety. This was a catastrophe which needed no call for reaching out by any authority; it was our duty to contribute than watch the tragedy unfold before us.
A like-minded group of Swayamsevaks/ volunteers came together from across Bharat and overseas on social media with one common cause, saving lives the mission with a war-room on Whatsapp, initiated and led by Girish Alva. Soon tragedy unfolded in Kodagu District of Karnataka with floods, landslides and widespread destruction in chaos. The team took over with two hashtags #SOSKerala and #SOSKodagu and the war-room was on full throttle with tech savvy Swayamsevaks on work in rescue and relief with the power of social media.
The team constituted of 32 people who took over distress, SOS messages on SM, shared, searched for information on help, contacted Armed Forces, rescue teams, Swayamsevaks, fishermen with their boats. There was no time for precise planning with water rising and cries of desperation increasing. The two hashtags #SOSKerala and #SOSKodagu were reached out to, for help by people who were fighting surrounded by water, not a drop to quench thirst with. Messages and calls of relatives whose near and dear ones were missing, phones switched off, fear of electric shock, helplessness all conveyed in request of help.
Social media platforms of FB, WA, Twitter and calls were scanned for distress messages. SOS’ with ‘waiting aged lady on top of a roof of flooded home’ to ‘group of neighbors holding life in hand near a landslide’, the war-room was on work. A total of 95 cases were attended and helped throughout day and night in coordination with rescue and relief forces.
These nationalists saved many lives, mapping locations and connecting them to Armed Forces, RSS Swayamsevaks, relief teams, fishermen working on ground. Many messages needed encouragement as water levels rising and calls not getting connected led to despair in relatives with no clue to what was in store. The team understanding the sensitivity of the situation worked non stop. The rescues and relief that were successful was their only solace to be found with constant check on updates of weather.
The team worked on a total of:
- 1200 hours of manpower,
- 1050 calls made,
- posting 3200 social media messages,
- relief material worth Rs 3-4 Lakhs collected on ground,
- two collection centers set up for online ordering of relief materials and
- an ongoing crowd funding site for donation.
The cry for #SOS help that pierced through a group of Swayamsevaks/ volunteers to come together and work for the nation is an example of how we can unitedly work for our nation on social media. The work of #SOSKerala and #SOSKodagu war-room should inspire and awaken our brethren to step ahead when our nation needs us. No inhibitions are necessary here to contribute in rescue and relief measures of our brothers and sisters. Social media has been used constructively here to help in cry of help and SOS.
– By Thara Gopalan
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