Floods of grace
Submitted by Dr. Angel Sheena George
Broken homes, broken roads and broken hearts is the aftermath of the massive landslides that swamped Manali. Unrelenting rain swelled the Beas River that turned into a torrent on 9th July, 2023, destroying all major roads, taking with it many homes, hotels and vehicles. Huge Volvo buses floated, like flotsam, down the river. The river ran its banks and carved new paths through the land, ruining houses, and orchards. The internet, phone lines, electricity, and other forms of communication were all down. With no vegetables in the shops and a meagre amount of money to buy provisions, hunger struck locals and tourists alike.
Lady Willingdon Hospital through its motto of ‘Loving God. Loving our Neighbors’ chose to open its doors to the ones that in need. By the grace of God, the far-sighted staff had stocked up on fuel and gas. On 11th July, a few of the staff ventured into the ruins to assess the needs. The survey done in Alu ground, Kalath, Bus stop, Bhaang, 14 mile, 15 mile and 16 mile areas found many stranded truck drivers hungry. In 17 mile, a diabetic had run out of medications which could be prescribed and supplied.
The staff of the hospital came together to provide meals for the needy, each helping in their own way, either cooking, packing, or delivering food.
A medical camp was organised on 15th July at Kalath where 79 patients were examined. Another medical camp was held on 19th July at Alu ground saw 57 patients with medicines being distributed at no cost and patients being supplied with both new and their routine medication. Another medical camp was organised at Ramsu on 27th July, for over 110 patients with medical, dental, dietary, and physiotheraphy consultations provided and medicines again being dispensed without cost for the patients.
Many stories have touched our hearts including a nine-year-old girl. a burn victim, who is presently being treated at the hospital with food and care being provided to the victim and the family. A family of six, who lost their home, asked for blankets and were provided with the same, along with meals. Another family who had lost their house and cattle were referred to the hospital where they were provided with supplies and clothes. More than 50 blankets, jackets and clothes were supplied for those in need.
The local administration assigned the responsibility to feed displaced people in Rambagh and Bus Stand area to the hospital and the church. One hundred and fifty displaced people were supplied with three meals a day for a month. Five thousand three hundred and thirty five food packets have been distributed in total.
A joint initiative with the SDM was also made to provide food for 300 tourists trapped in Lahaul and Spiti Our staff worked into the night to have the food packets ready to accompany rescuers who extricated people stuck beyond Rohtang pass (near Chandertal).
Besides food packets, requests for dry ration have also come in, and this is also being provided in the Katrain area.
In Patlikuhl and Mahili, the local leaders provided the staff with a list of 24 people who have lost their homes and we are currently working on meeting their needs. 11 people were found to have lost their homes near Patlikuhl, and their requirements were centred around money and dry ration.
We are grateful we were able to participate in spreading the love and grace of God in tangible ways during these days of darkness. His grace can come in the form of a food packet on a hungry day, a warm blanket on a chilly night, or through a gentle touch of comfort. What doesn’t change however, is the simple truth that it always comes from the heart of God. We at Lady Willingdon Hospital feel nothing but gratitude to the Almighty to be used as instruments to fulfill the mission for which this hospital was built. Our endeavours to help the needy will continue till the security of homes and workplace is restored. We seek your prayers in doing the same. We thank everyone who called, prayed, and sent in donations to us to strengthen our hands in service at this time of need. We bless you in His name.
At the time of this report, the homeless and displaced have found their way out of Manali, and our food distribution has now ceased. Life is limping back to a semblance of normality. For many however, it may never be normal again, for many hopes, dreams and lives now lie submerged under the waters of the Beas, now flowing placidly by.