–Anandu, Attapadi, Kerala
It was a sultry Sunday morning of May 2021, and the helpdesk of Swami Vivekananda Medical Mission, the partner organization of Sewa International, received an emergency call from the village health worker of Mele Mulli. The village is situated in Attappady, a region predominantly inhabited by tribal people in the Indian state of Kerala. The health worker requested essential groceries, vegetables and necessary medicine for an elderly-woman in the village. The Sewa team visited the village in the same day afternoon with the required relief kit and found that the situation of the elderly woman was worse than what they initially imagined.
Kaliyamma, the 84-year-old woman, lived alone in the tribal village of Mele Mulli. The area is saddled with high infant mortality rates, malnourishment, low literacy level, poverty and high unemployment. The tribes of Attappady live in hamlets called ‘ooru’, in and around the hills and forests of the Western Ghats of India. Mele Mulli is the last tribal village of Attappady in the north-eastern part of Kerala. The village is surrounded by forests and frequently attacked by wild animals like elephants and boars. The relief provided by the government never arrives or often reaches these tribal villages late.
The elderly woman Kaliyamma was living alone in Mele Mulli village without any source of income. Her elder son had died a few years back and her second son was stuck in Tamil Nadu due to COVID-19 related lockdown restrictions. She was suffering from cough, fever and cold and the Sewa provided essential medicines to her through the trained community health volunteers. The team also provided her a grocery kit, arranged freshly-cooked food and connected her with the state health department. The health department conducted a mass testing, and found 48 COVID-19 positive cases in the village. Kaliyamma was also tested positive and was taken to an isolation centre. She is now recovering well in the government COVID-19 facility. The immediate relief provided by Sewa and Vivekananda Medical Mission in the form of grocery kit and medicine provided a lifeline to Kaliyamma for a few days before the government support reached her.
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