The first missionary religious congregation for women in the history of the Church and the world is the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary founded in 1877 by BL. Mary of the Passion, now in the 139th year of its course.

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Life Shared

Service in Srinagar

    September 7th 2014, was a black day for Jammu and Kashmir, the most beautiful city in Srinagar, in the valley of Kashmir as the city was inundated with floods. In a matter of few minutes the water rose up to 24 feet high reaching the second floor, even to the top of the roof. The gush of water was so sudden that people did not have any time to collect their precious belongings but run out to save their lives. They witnessed with their own eyes, their properties being carried out of their homes and someone else’s belongings floating into their houses. Till date no one is able to say from where the water gushed into the city and villages filling the mountains and valleys, the lakes and rivers. After 10 days or so the water receded in Jhelum river. The topography of Srinagar completely changed, there was no electricity and communication was totally cut

    CARIATAS was already on the site engaged in relief services. We had a call from CHAI and SDFI to form medical camp in order to work on preventive measures to save the victims from any epidemics. There was an urgent call from our fmm sister Sr.Dr.Placida from Baramulla to give a helping hand in forming the medical camp since she did not find many NGO’s in the affected places offering medical care for the people. That is why Sr.Ursula and I rushed to the spot, preparing ourselves within 2 days and reached Srinagar on the 26th September, 2014. Even after 20 days of this mishap, I found Srinagar devoid of all its beauty and glory; it was only stink and dirt.

    I have seen Srinagar in 1980’s in all its glory and beauty, crowded with tourists, couples and lovers strolling along the by ways, lakes, meadows and mountains. That was a peaceful time! Then in 1990’s I have witnessed Srinagar filled with militants, military jawans, CRPF and police, and that was the time of militancy. But on the 26th September, 2014, I was shocked to see the capital all devastated, hardly anyone walking on the road. There was deserted look all around, only the main roads were free of water, but all the lanes and streets had 4-5 feet of stagnant water with stink and dirt. We saw the houses floating in water and people using small boats for their transport from one lane to the other. There were few tents along the road side with medical aid.

 

Witnessing such horrible scene in front of us, the very next day we formed a medical team that consisted of two doctors, two nurses, three nursing students, a social worker and a driver. Sr.Dr.Placida the Superior and Medical Superintendent of St.Joseph’s Hospital, Baramulla hosted the medical team. In her generosity she and her community in Baramulla made all the arrangments and provided all that was necessary for the mobile team to function. Overnight we planned and got ready to serve the suffering victims in Bemena, close to Srinagar, which was still badly affected. They used ladders to go on the roof of one house and then another ladder to get into their house –to the first floor only, because the ground floor of the houses were still under water.
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    As soon as we arrived in Bemena, two ladies asked us whether we brought medicines. On hearing that we are going to be with them that day to give them medical care, within five minutes crowds of people came to us with their ailments. We settled ourselves in a tent which was available in the premises and started our work. There was nonstop visit of patients - women, men and children to our camp. As two doctors were seeing the patients inside the tent, two nurses and students dispensed the medicines from the ambulance itself. The social worker along with the driver helped in keeping order, so that all the patients could be attended to without interruption and difficulty. The long day ended at 6pm and we returned to Baramulla at 8pm. Physically we were tired and exhausted but our spirit was fresh and alive to help the needy.

    I had previous experience of working in the areas hit by natural calamity like floods in Velanganni, earth quake in Gujarat, Tsunami in Nagapatinam and earth quake in Kashmir, working with caritas – CHAI and SDFI – this is the first time we worked all by ourselves as fmm to face the disaster management and medical camp. When we worked with other agencies we had to give only our services. But now on our own we managed the planning, finance matters and medicine etc. It was a great challenge. With the help of our fmm family and the positive nature of Sr.Dr.Placi and full support of Baramulla community we were able to continue our medical aid for the victims the whole of October.

    With the help of a volunteer, and block medical officer we spotted the areas where the people were most hit by the floods and where other NGO’s had not reached. Likewise within the short time of 35 days we were able to reach out to Srinagar, Pambur, Nowgan Sopore, Bandipora, Baramulla and Boniyar districts. We extended our medical care to all withou distinction. Since three big hospitals of Srinagar were under water people were badly in need of medical camps.

    We attended to 300 – 400 patients in a day; they were mostly suffering from body pain, injuries, respiratory infection, skin infections, fungal infections, gastero – enteritis and depression. We were also supplying chlorine tablets to purify water and dettol soaps, all the while instructing them about Hygiene.

    As the winter was fast setting in, it was heart – breaking to see the victims still living in tents, broken houses and on the second floor without proper warm clothes for the winter. CRS has now reached Baramulla after having taken survey in Bandipora district to supply house hold materials for 1000 houses.

    It is a long way to reinstate the valley of Kashmir from their loss of property and houses. May the Good Lord protect them and heal them. I am sure our visits with medical camps to various interior villages will pave the way to St.Joseph’s Hospital and school of Nursing in Baramulla to adopt few villages to continue their extension medical work and promote health to the people.

Dr. EmilySusai.Fmm- Avinashi