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    As rehabilitation drives pick up, the city needs you—to drive ambulances, make starter kits, distribute aid, feed the strays and more. Here’s where you can volunteer help.

    For the past few weeks, Chennai has been a city of excess—first hit by torrential rains and then by an outpouring of love and support. Citizens braved floods to rescue urban castaways and bring aid. But now with waters receding and people trying to rebuild their lives, relief measures are shifting gears—towards rehabilitation and keeping diseases in check. “Access to clean drinking water is one of the biggest problems. We are bringing down mobile RO plants,” says Arun Vasu, CMD of the TT Group and co-founder of Covelong Point, who has been on the forefront of relief and rescue with his staff and fishermen. “There is plenty being donated, but right now we need hands on the ground, to distribute,” he adds. Almost all volunteer groups are preparing starter kits now—of rations, appliances and basic necessities. “The people who have been affected cut across society—so the needs and sensitivities differ. We need to identify this and move forward,” says Jayendra Panchapakesan, co-founder of the Bhoomika Trust, who has been working with private groups, grassroot organisations and NGOs to channelise aid. “We also need to look at mid-term and long-term rehabilitation plans—like how to get the daily labourers and the self-employed back on their feet,” he shares. Cleaning the city is also among the list of priorities, with many feeling this is the time to erase the muck and garbage. Krish Kumar, the former head of operations at Sir Mutha Hall has been using his smartphone and social media to coordinate efforts. “The river has cleaned the entire city and dumped it on our roads. We need to tackle that,” says Kumar. Meanwhile, others are collaborating with people in the US, to develop apps that help streamline relief efforts. With so much going on, the need of the hour is volunteers. While many may not have free weekdays, with offices functioning again, might we suggest pitching in over the weekend? Here’s where we think your help would be most appreciated.

    Chennai Trekkers
    Help wanted: City clean up, mapping areas needing relief
    We saw Peter Van Geit, founder of the Chennai Trekking Club, at the helm of boats, rescuing people and animals alike. Now the Belgian is calling for volunteers to clean the city this Sunday. “We are organising a city-wide street cleanup, from 6-10 am, in areas like Alwarpet, Kotturpuram, Mogappair and Velachery. We also need people to identify and map areas (on relief.chennaitrekkers.org)—marking places that have received relief, that still need relief and also upload requirements. Finally, we need help to segregate and distribute relief materials,” he says. Details: info@chennaitrekkers.org

    Bhoomika Trust
    Help wanted: Rescue, distribution
    They’ve been running kitchens and mobilising rescue operations. But now the NGO would like to focus on putting together starter kits. “We are packing ration kits (rice, dal, oil, etc) and kitchen utensil kits. Next, we’ll need survival kits, with essentials for a family,” says Panchapakesan. Volunteers are needed to pack materials and go out into the field, to distribute. At Shri Rama Kalyana Mandapam, Nungambakkam. Details: 9884114111

    Blue Cross
    Help wanted: Rescue, cleaning, feeding
    With over 16,000 animals rescued from the flood, the folks at Blue Cross need all the help they can get. “We need volunteers to help with off-site rescues. There are still animals in need in places like Urapakkam, Pallikaranai and Mudichur,” says Sathya Radhakrishnan, honorary joint secretary of BCI. So if you have a car, bring it along. They also need help at their Velachery shelter—to clean and disinfect the shelter, and feed the animals. Para-vets are welcome, as there are plenty of on-site treatment requirements. Details: sathya@bluecrossofindia.org

    Banyan
    Help wanted: Rescue, distribution
    The Banyan has been running a kitchen and distributing aid acorss the city. They have also been focussing on the homeless, with volunteers providing them food and helping them access government-run shelters. Now the NGO needs help with packaging relief kits and distributing aid (at Shri Rama Kalyana Mandapam, Nungambakkam). People with cars or other modes of transportation are also needed to help distribut relief materials from one of their headquarters in Kovalam, to areas like Kannagi Nagar and villages in Mahabalipuram. Details: nisha@thebanyan.org

    The Orange Leaf
    Help wanted: Distribution
    The Chennai chapter of The Orange Leaf, an organisation that works for causes like womens empowerment and animal
    welfare, is distributing basic medicines, soaps, stationery items and more, acorss the city this weekend. Shruthi Prakash,
    VP of The Orange Leaf in Chennai (they are also present in Hyderabad and New Delhi), says that her team of
    40 could use all the help they can get and those interested can turn up at Mummy Daddy store in Kilpauk at around 11 am on
    Saturday, after checking with her. Details: 8197207664

    Chennai Animal Rescue
    Help wanted: Feeding, cleaning, rescue
    Their Facebook page is just four days old but this outfit started by film technicians and friends housed, medicated and helped adopt rescued pups and kittens at Sankara Hall till yesterday. Having relocated to a temporary space, they are working with animal organisations like Blue Cross and SPCA and welcome volunteers of all ages, especially vets and veterinary students and people experienced in rescuing animals. They are also looking for a small space that is centrally located and accessible to volunteers, and are open to donations of animal food. Details: facebook.com/chennaianimalrescue

    YR Gaitonde Centre
    Help wanted: Data collectors
    Dr Sunil Solomon, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is worried about infectious disease epidemics—like cholera typhoid and flu—from inadequate sanitary conditions and overcrowding. As the chairman of YR Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education, he is planning to establish a biometric system to track populations that have been displaced. “What we critically need is for volunteers to collect data that includes maintaining a census and recording details of the individuals who have received treatment for various infections as well as vaccinations to minimise duplication,” he says. Details: yrgcare.org

     

    #Chennaidoggiepatrol
    Help wanted: Rescue, feeding strays
    Spearheaded by Vaishnavi Prasad, a standup comic, actor and activist, this initiative has seen animal lovers driving around the city, feeding starving strays. So if you have a love for the four-legged, join in. Check in with Prasad and either drive around your neighbourhood, distributing food, or join in with other teams. You can also help by collecting the food that is needed.
    Details: 8939119663

    Vidhaigal
    Aayiram
    Help wanted: Distribution
    Thiruvallur-based Vidhaigal Aayiram is sourcing relief materials from Chennai and requires volunteers to help distribute them in the district. “There are small villages there with about 60 families in each. We hope to help about 1,000 families there,” says dentist Dr Amutha Suresh, who will be distributing rice, mats, brushes and more this weekend. The group is also giving away old clothes and requires volunteers to help wash and iron them. Volunteers will be picked up at Perungalathur.
    Details: 9884725256

    Chennai Volunteers
    Help wanted: Cooking, distribution
    You are welcome to join in cooking, packing or distribution at their outfit in Nungambakkam. You could also use your persuasion skills to advocate hygiene on awareness drives. Register on chennaivolunteers.org. Details: 9840182299

    Helpage India
    Help wanted: Packing,
    distribution, transport
    Rescue and relief are not limited to the elderly alone. Send them a mail, mentioning your skills/profession and location, and they will contact you when your help is required. Volunteers are required for packing, distribution of essentials, to help with their mobile medical units and so on. Details: chennai@helpageindia.org

    Bhumi
    Help wanted: Verification, distribution
    Dr Prahalathan KK, an ophthalmologist and co-founder of the youth vounteering organisation, says people have been generous with their time since November 15. College students and young professionals from the state and Bengaluru, too, have been contacting them to volunteer over the weekends, to help organise and distribute supplies and to assess needs and verify where relief is required (at least 67 places to be verified when we speak). Sign up for alerts of daily volunteer requirements. Centres in Mylapore, Teynampet and Royapettah. Details: volunteers.org/chennai-flood

    Caritas India
    Help wanted: Case study documenters
    The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, headquartered in New Delhi, requires volunteers in the city to do case studies of affected families and document them with photographs, videos and written material. They are working in four districts — Cuddalore, Villupuram, Kancheepuram and Chennai — and the case study teams will need to dedicate a week to 10 days of their time for this. For more information, contact John Arokiaraj, the organisations state office in Tamil Nadu. Details: 9840371624

    By Team Indulge

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