By Formosa Relief Team (Originally in Chinese)
In August 2014, northern India was devastated by flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains with West Bengal being one of the four affected states. Deeply concerned about the situation, Supreme Master Ching Hai instructed our Association members to conduct disaster relief work in West Bengal, providing a generous fund of US$10,000. Immediately our Taipei Center in Formosa formed a relief team and traveled to the afflicted area.
At the train station in Siliguri, India, we met Mr. Manoj Bhura and his family from Cooch Behar District in West Bengal, which was our destination. Upon learning the purpose of our trip, the family, who is vegetarian, warmly invited us to a vegan meal at their home and offered us great help in investigating the flood situation and purchasing relief items.
After visiting the disaster-stricken area, we purchased rice, beans, vegan protein seasonings, instant rice, sugar, vegetable oil and mosquito repellent and organized them into 200 relief packages. That evening we distributed 50 of the packages to 50 families who were most in need in Sagardighi.
The next morning, we went to visit the tea farms in Jalpaiguri District to look for the workers whose lives had become extremely difficult due to the closing of tea plantations, according to the media report we read before the trip.
From talking with the local people in the town of Birpara near Jalpaiguri, it was confirmed that starting in 2003, several tea plantations had been closed and it is very difficult to get in and out of this area. Workers have not been able to find employment opportunities and their lives are becoming increasingly arduous.
Mr. Sushil Rathi is an elderly local merchant. He was touched by the fact that friends came from as far as Formosa to help tea plantation workers. We told him it was due to the love and care of Master that we came, and we also gave him Master’s The Key of Immediate Enlightenment Sample Booklet. He was very happy and introduced us to the current chairman of a local tea garden workers union, who then connected us with the representatives of the closed tea gardens.
The following morning, with the company of local volunteers, we distributed the remaining 150 relief packages to the workers. We also learned from the union representatives that the workers had not had new clothes for many years to celebrate the Bengal New Year, which is on October 1. With the help of Mr. Rathi and Mr. Bhura in Cooch Behar, we purchased 1,500 Saris, 1,000 T-shirts, 1,000 Gamchas (traditional cotton towels), and 1,000 two-kilogram packages of dal. All were distributed, with the help of Mr. Rathi and his neighbors, to four designated tea gardens the next day. Thus the workers were able to enjoy a more cheerful New Year than they had in quite some time.
We are thankful to Master’s supreme blessing and the warm help from the local people, which allowed us to smoothly complete the mission of this trip.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai
for Flood Relief Work in West Bengal, India
|Food (beans, rice, vegan protein seasonings, instant rice, sugar and vegetable oil||279,410||A,B|
|Total|| INR 606,910
The relief work members paid US$ 5,144 for their own travel expenses including food and accommodations.