News Release

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Deliver Relief to Kerala Flood Survivors


When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints heard about the suffering in Kerala last August 2018, they were determined to help. Unusually heavy monsoon rains resulted in the worst flooding since 1924 leaving more than 580 people dead and over 750,000 displaced in that south Indian state.

News of the suffering prompted members to meet to find ways to raise funds and gather volunteers to give assistance. 

Prince Jayakaran, head of the LDS congregations in Chennai explained, “We talked in our congregations about Kerala and how big the flood was.  We people in Chennai know about floods because in 2015 we suffered the same way. So, when we heard about the floods in Kerala we were worried.”

“We wrote to the Church and told them about the hardships of our people and asked for their help,” Jayakaran continued. “There are about 1.5 crore (15,000,000) Church members all around the world. With their voluntary donations we helped the people of Kerala.”

In partnership with LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), hundreds of Latter-day Saints gathered in meetinghouses in Chennai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore in September to assemble over 2,000 shelter, hygiene and basic kitchen utensil kits and load them onto trucks to be delivered to Kerala.

That was not enough Jayakaran explained, “After sending the relief material, we wanted to come in person, visit the people and help them.” 

With ADRA’s assessments and logistical help, one hundred volunteers from Chennai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore traveled to Kerala in late September to distribute the kits to villages in five districts.

Volunteers from Chennai and Bengaluru worked in the Wayanad District, distributing blankets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins and ground cloths as well as pots, spoons, plates and personal hygiene items. Along with others, Raja Munuswamy traveled 615 km from Chennai to help with the distribution.  After designated residents had received their supplies in one village, Raja says he noticed “two very old women, all alone and with very little hope of getting any kind of help because their names did not appear on the list.”  Despite that, he continued, arrangements were made so that “these women were also given relief materials and taken to their places by the volunteers.  One was Muslim and the other was a Hindu. They had lost everything they owned.”  The aid, Raja said, was received with gratitude and produced “a sense of comfort and confidence” in the recipients. 

Raja Doraisamy traveled six hours overnight to Wayanad with a group of thirty-five from Bengaluru.  The next morning, they got right to work distributing supplies.  The experience was a touching one for him.

“We could sense the change in their countenances from sadness to joy as the beneficiaries collected the items and took them to their homes.  It was an amazing experience of service and love.”

In Coimbatore, people of all ages worked from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. assembling the kits which were loaded on a truck by 7 p.m. and were on the road by 8:30 p.m.

Daniel Selvaraj, traveled with his group eight hours to the Alappuzha and Pathanamtitta Districts near the coast where they distributed shelter, hygiene and kitchen kits for three days. “We found the people in great need and so grateful for the supplies,” he said. 

Kits were also delivered to Idukki, one of the districts hardest hit by the heavy rains. Rising water levels there forced authorities to open the Idukki dam, the largest arch dam in Asia, resulting in 400 deaths and massive destruction. In addition, the area was hit by 278 landslides, causing additional loss of life and destroying more than 100 acres of property.  S.V. Sunil, Manager of the India LDS Service Center and volunteer from Bengaluru spoke with one man who lost five family members when a landslide hit his home. He only survived because he had gone out on an errand with his son.

“He had lost everything and was very grateful for our help,” Sunil said. “He and others told me ‘these are the materials we wanted, this will help us for at least six months.’”  At the same time, Sunil noted, “Being part of this project has been a wonderful experience for our members.  It has made us more grateful for and aware of our own blessings.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Prince Jayakaran as he stood before the gathered residents of Wayanad “We believe that all people are God’s children,” he said.  “If any one of you suffer, we in Chennai would feel your pain.  God has taught us to help. We are happy to serve you. It feels like heaven when we serve you all here.”

Relief for Kerala was organized according to well-established protocol. LDS Charities provides short-term, life sustaining resources in partnership with local and international relief organizations. Under the direction of local leadership, members of the Church help by assembling and distributing supplies. More than one million workdays of labor are contributed each year by Church members in support of welfare initiatives worldwide.

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