Below is a request for emergency assistance from Seed Welfare Society (Kolkata, India), where there has been a devastating cyclone. Child Health Foundation has supported this organization since 2005–an orphanage that we gave a Small Grant to build a clinic and then supported it with funds that have come in from other donors every year since.

Child Health Foundation has sent them US$ 1,000 from our emergency funds. Kindly contact us if you would like to donate to assist in this emergency.


Villages under water which gushed in as Cyclone Aila struck

Cyclone Aila blew over West Bengal and Bangladesh on 25th of May, exactly one week ago. Things in and around our orphanage on the island in the Sunderbans are in an unimaginable condition. Life in Kolkata also came to standstill. Roads were blocked all over the city because more than 1000 trees fell on the roads. The electric connection poles were down so there was no electricity for over three days and there was no water supply. But this is far better compared to what the islands around the Gangetic delta experienced. Due to their poor condition for using low-grade material and for poor maintenance, under 120km wind pressure, all river embankments collapsed like matchstick fences within minutes. Being next to the sea, the high tide brought in salty sea water and within minutes all vegetation, rice growing fields, grassland and pasture were under 10ft deep water. With the wind speed of so great and with high water level, it took only a couple of minutes to bring the mud houses down. People ran to high grounds with their families and helplessly witnessed their houses and all their belongings getting washed away. Our worker, Kartik Maity, and many like him had to swim across and take shelter in our hostel. The salt water overflowed and filled every pond and canal of sweet water and killed all living creatures living in there.

Broken Embankment leads to flooding of Village

Broken Embankment leads to flooding of Village

On that night over 500 men, women and children took shelter in our hostel building. Out of them there were approximately 150 children, 20 small babies and 60 old and infirm people. We gave them food and shelter. Within the next two days we collected clothes and distributed to these helpless people. We gave them emergency treatment from the ‘Healing Grace’ clinic CHF gave us. While people got shelter in our hostel building, hundreds of their cattle are standing all along the road side. None of our children were hurt.

From Kolkata we have supplied ORS, phenyl, disinfectant, sanitizer, bleach and water purifying liquid. This was not adequate so we sent a larger supply within the next two days. But it is not enough and we received request for replenishment of these supplies on an urgent basis. The building has suffered too many damages. Doors, windows roof tops have either flown off or broken or cracked. But the greatest need is of drinking water. Our water filter is under salt water and the supply connection of fresh drinking water has broken. Water is sent to the islands from Kolkata, but it is not carried up to the islands. People need to get to the other side of the river on boats to get supply of drinking water. There has already been one death from cholera.

Not a Drop to Drink - The wait for drinking water

Not a Drop to Drink – The wait for drinking water

As I wrote earlier, we are thankful to CHF for many reasons. In this crisis situation we feel your kindness and help even more. No medical team came to help the villagers, but we could treat the people first with the medicine we had in our clinic. Now with a better supply of medicine we sent from Kolkata, our own doctor is rendering unparalleled service with the help of some of our own youngsters. The service has been rendered to our own village first and then to all neighboring villages. We could do all this because we had a clinic (you gave us) and a doctor and medicines (you helped us to maintain).

When the sea water burst all fences and brought in with it crocodiles, snakes, scorpions, the solid wall we could build with your most recent financial help all around our children’s home stood like a guard and defended our children. Water seeped in and covered our play ground about 1ft high. But the 10ft high deluge could be kept away for the strong high wall. Thank you again, CHF!!

The need is great. We need medicine, water, clothes, at a later time we need to provide help to build houses, but as CHF stood by us, we know CHF would stand by us whenever we need. Thank you.

Maya Banerji, President
Seed Welfare Society

Photos by Anil Gulati