Gifted with its natural serene beauty, Kerala was always known as a safe tourist destination in South Asia. The calm and quiet lifestyle of Kerala came to a standstill in August 2018. Kerala faced the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore. As on August 23, 1.3 million people are now living in flood relief camps.
Kerala’s worst floods in nearly a century, over 373 people died within a fortnight, while at least 280,679 people were evacuated, mainly from Chengannur, Pandanad, Aranmula, Aluva, Paravoor, Chalakudy, Kuttanad, Pandalam and with all 14 districts of the state placed on high alert. Thirty-five out of the forty-two dams within the state were opened for the first time in history and all five overflow gates of the Idukki Dam were opened at the same time after a gap of 26 years. Heavy rains in Wayanad and Idukki have caused severe landslides and have left the hilly districts isolated.
Kerala was already famous for its progressive outlook and developments in the fields of healthcare, education, religious harmony and social welfare. Now, ‘rebuilding Kerala’ has become the mantra of every Keralite. Irrespective of any social, religious or political differences, Keralites are making a comeback. Even the stories from the relief camps are examples of the goodness of the people of Kerala. Fishermen from South Kerala coming to flood affected areas with their boats for rescue operations on their own initiative; young men and women seek for opportunities to help someone; A Catholic Parish opens its cemetery for the burial of a Hindu; Muslim girls decorating hands of Christian nuns as part of Eid celebrations; Muslim youth under the leadership of an Imam cleans a Shrine of Holy Cross; people who are not affected by flood are cooking food and sending them to relief camps all over Kerala… Stories of highest human solidarity are coming day by day.
Carmelites in Kerala are very actively participating in the rebuilding of Kerala. Carmelites were in the forefront of the rescue operations too. Fr. Praveen Lawrence O.Carm, Principal of Chris Cappell College, along with student Carmelites did some extra ordinary initiatives in this regard. They directly participated in some rescue operations. Three of our vehicles from the Carmelite Priory of North Paravoor were stuck down in different flood affected areas. Both the Priory and Chris Cappell College are now opened for flood victims. The Priory including the cloister opened to accommodate around 100 people and Chris Cappell College accommodated more than one thousand people. Fr. Jose Thomas, the Prior of Carmelaram Priory stated: “It is now that we are really working in the midst of people, living the true Christian charity.” Fr. Jacob Roby, Delegate General, was away in North India when the flood affected Kerala. When he came back, Fr. Jacob Roby visited the people living in our Campus and promised our commitment and support in the rebuilding of their lives. All our friars and students actively participated in the rescue and relief operations along with governmental and non-governmental agencies and general public. As Carmelites, we hereby put ourselves in the providential hands of God and renew our commitment to the service of His Kingdom where every human person is respected and living in dignity.