By Stalin S
Tapan Mahapatra, programme assistant of Echo South Asia programmes, visited Caritas India’s operating areas at Mahisar village in Sitamarhi. In Sitamarhi 8 villages are supported by European Commission for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). On 21st September Caritas India organised distribution of food and non-food items to 700 families.
Simultaneously medical camp and awareness through street play on health and hygiene was also organised in the same venue in Mahisar village at Sitamarhi district. Caritas India already distributed food and non-food items for 1,300 flood affected families in Sitamarhi upto 11th September. The remaining families would be covered in the coming week. The entire programme was taken up in association with Jan Shakti International, a local NGO.
Mahisar village is one of the most affected areas in Sitamarhi district. Basically the infrastructure of the village was bad even before the flood. There are no proper roads, sanitary facilities, schools and health centres in the village. Almost 1200 families live in the Mahisar village. Most of them live in mud and thatched houses. There are hardly 100 families live in well-built houses.
The main occupation of the people in the villages is agriculture. Due to the current flood situation most of the agricultural lands are water logged and the crops were destroyed so their livelihood also is at a stake. Apart from that a huge number of people go out of their villages and works as daily labourers for their livelihood and they hardly earns 60-70 Rs. per day. Major part of income of the families come from the unskilled labour force that migrates to far away cities. Human trafficking is a major issue facing the region and this region is called ‘pipeline of human trafficking”.
Government had promised to distribute 1-quintal wheat and Rs. 200. For all the families in the village so far they have distributed 25 kg of wheat and 200 Rupees in Mahisar village. People are still expecting the rest of the food items which were promised by the government. The food distribution done by Caritas India was really a great help for the affected people in Mahisar village.
The items might be sufficient to meet their food requirements for a week or so. It is assumed that the government support would supplement the immediate requirement for a longer period. Caritas India along with the Coordinating partner Seva Sadan distributed food and non-food materials for the affected families and also planning to distribute buckets, jerry cans and tarpaulins in the coming days.
The street plays were also conducted in the same day in Mahisar village. Street theatre team camped in Sitamarhi to do more demonstration in other villages also in the coming days. The main aim of this programme is to create awareness among the villagers about the importance of safe drinking water, maintaining hygiene to keep the epidemics and other diseases away, which are likely to spread at this time. The street plays will help to build a habit of cleanliness in their life. The team mostly demonstrated the way of using ORS packets and the use of halogen tablets to purify drinking water.
Tapan Mahaptra arrived at Mahisar village around 12.30 pm. He visited the distribution process and medical camps arranged in the village. He was very much impressed and appreciated the effort taken by Caritas India and Seva Sadan to help the flood affected people in Bihar region. Later he watched the street play organised by Caritas India for the villagers. Before leaving the village he visited the affected areas and houses in the villages to get first hand information on the real situations in the village. On 24th he will be visiting the ECHO funded villages in Darbanga district.
There is no primary health centre in Mahisar village. The nearest one is 3 km away from the village. The one centre which exists in the village doesn’t have a doctor or any other qualified persons, only a mid-wife is appointed there to assist in the child delivery cases. Moreover in Mahisar village there is only a middle school run by the government. If the children from the village want to do their high schools they have to travel more than 3 to 4 km daily to have access to their high school situated outside their village.
Sitamarhi district is commonly believed to be the birth place of Sita Devi, wife of Lord Rama and it still looks like the times of Ramayana. We can hardly find any modern development in those villages. There is no proper transportation system or road and all the villages lack the basic infrastructure.
However Sitamarhi is rich with rivers. There are six small and big rivers that run through Sitamarhi but the improper planning on the part of government changed this blessing as a curse for the people in the villages. Whenever it rains Sitamarhi is the place gets affected with floodwater, which remains for almost 5 to 6 months in the villages. So the helping hand extended by Caritas India and other organisations are really a blessing for the affected and neglected people in Sitamarhi.