Terrified to terrific: A saga | Milaap

Terrified to terrific: A saga

On the onset of the devastating Kerala floods, I was on a visit to a place called Mathabhanga in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. Waking up to news headlines that reported about all the losses that Kerala is facing lately was difficult. I don't know if it was a coincidence or something else but I was informed about the similar incidents that took place last year in the Mathabhanga region.

 I am a regular visitor to such rural areas of the state due to my job. It makes me sad about how people thrive to get the resources that are so easily available in the metropolitan cities of our country. These people hold on to the little sources that are provided to them. They do not have high expectations from their lives as all they want is to live a life without any financial crisis.

It was a sunny day, when I decided to visit my borrowers in order to get an insight about their daily lives. While on my way to their houses, I came across stories of flood that hit the region last year during this time. It was a mere coincidence that my field officer who stays in the region also faced the floods last year. "One day I woke up to see all our official documents floating all over the room, I didn't know what to save first", recalled my field officer. These men work on a daily basis to help our borrowers with their loans. For them the documents were no less precious than their lives.

During this time last year, rail and road communication was severely hit and over five lakh people were affected in northern West Bengal. Major rivers like Teesta, Torsa and Kaljani were in spate as the flood fury triggered by heavy rains. Those with mud houses and thatched roofs faced the floods in the worst way possible. Unlike the urban people, the only assets that they count on are their cattle and stored grains. The floods not only took away their assets but also left them helpless and homeless.

While interviewing my borrowers I came across their losses which were heartbreaking. Few villagers committed suicide out of utter helplessness. However, on the other hand there were many who are still struggling to come out of the losses. I came across a few who are buying new cattle and starting new business with the help of the loans. Out of many other helping hands, the micro-financing institutions have been serving these poor villagers with great financial support and continue to do the same. They help them to retain their faith in humanity no matter what the circumstances are. As I met a group of ladies in one of the SHGs, I realized how vital it is for them to come together in order to solve the issues that they face in their day to day lives. They have this unsaid concept of companionship that keeps them together and takes them forward to a better future.

Overall meeting with the people of Mathabhanga made me realize the worth of hope in one's life. The way they are working towards the betterment of their livelihood is inspiring. The smiles on their faces indicate the simplicity that they have. They might not have great agendas in their lives but what they have is something that our generation lacks. They know the importance of sticking by each other no matter how that bad the situations are. And that is the biggest reason behind their success in coming out of a tragic incident like that.