Let Them Smile Again’s medical relief and recovery mission to help the flood-affected people of Kerala, came to a successful close after a hectic ten days that covered the length and breadth of the flood-affected state last month.
The mission saw the team comprising of doctors, nurses and volunteers traveling to 16 different affected locations across the worst-affected areas of the state, where they treated over 3,200 patients, performed over 39 surgeries and handed out over 1,000 relief and food packs, all totally free of charge.
The team, which included 30+ volunteers from the United States and over 150 from the local areas – which included volunteers and medical personnel from Madras Christian College and Pushpagiri Medical College, undertook a punishing schedule that saw them travel to camps early in the morning and continue working with patients and affected people till late at night. To cover such distances and reach so many people in such a short period of time, was an exercise in logistical and technical wizardry.
“The goal of the entire mission was to be able to provide relief and the required medical treatment to as many of the worst hit flood victims as possible, and also to reach those who were not able to access medical treatment or receive aid,” said LTSA Chairman, John W. Varghese. “We have to thank our many sponsors, supporters, local civic and religious authorities as well as our selfless volunteers, for their untiring efforts that enabled the mission to be a grand success.”
Let Them Smile Again’s mission certainly struck a chord and attracted strong support from the local Asian community in Texas and other parts of the country, with donations of both cash and kind pouring in . Organizers reported donations of over $40,000 within a short time of the mission being announced.
Among the major donors included: National Association of Indian nurses of North America (NAINA), Indian American Nurses Association of Greater Houston (IANAGH), Parackal Charity International, South Indian US Chamber of Commerce, World Malayalee Council Houston Province, Alamo Travels among others.
The mission began with the teams assembling at the home base of Kochi, from where they traveled to Paravur, Chirayam. Mallapally, TV Puram, Koipuram, Angadi, Ranni, Ranni Tribal Area, Adichupuzha Hill Tribal Area, Ezhikkad Colony, Kurichimuttom and other badly-hit regions that were difficult to reach for relief teams. The team members were up at the crack of dawn and work began as early as 6 am and sometimes went on till 9.30 in the evening, as the lines of people waiting to be attended to were often much more than expected.
Meanwhile the surgical team, were based in the George Mathen Memorial Hospital, Mallapally for an entire week, where they performed a series of free surgical procedures and interventions on needy patients drawn from the local area and neighbouring regions.
After the medical camps were done with for the day, the team members also took time to visit over 10 orphanages and old age homes, where they had dinner with the residents and ministered to their needs, while giving a sympathetic ear to their woes. Let Them Smile Again were also glad to be able to contribute Rs. 100.000 towards the welfare of the fishermen, who played an invaluable role in rescuing flood victims from hard to access areas in the state.
At the end of the ten days, it was a tired but happy team who said their goodbyes before making their way back to their home bases, replete with the sense of mission accomplished and satisfaction at being able to touch so many lives.