Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan
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Yet the Trees Remain Standing
A note from Association for India's Development (Raleigh, USA and also from Bhuj) volunteer Ami Zota

Earthquake Update Appeal No. 3 (3nd Feb 2001)

This is from Ami Zota who is from Association for India's Development - Raleigh, USA and also from Bhuj. She is on a 6 month AID internship with Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) in Gujarat.

Dearest friends, family, and loved ones,

As most of you know on january 26th, mother earth rocked the world with a massive earthquake. The earthquake hit all of gujarat but mostly Bhuj and Khutch, my native place of origin and home to ALL of my family. I was in gujarat but far enough away that i only felt a small ripple of effect, yet bhuj and all of khutch is another story........

I just returned from spending 4 days in khutch. i left along with my parents and family friends the day of the 27th. The situation is really really bad. In the city of bhuj, population 125,000, conservative estimates show death toll of 25,000 (1 out of every 6 person dead).

By some strange combination of karma and good luck and protection my entire family on both my mother and fathers sides survived without a scratch.

But the situation is very dismal. My entire family along with the majority of people in towns of bhuj, rappur, bacchau, and anjar are homeless and without a source of livelihood. Certain small villlages near the epicenter point have been completely sucked into the ground: dissappeared from the map... khutchi culture becoming extinct.

The city of Bhuj lings with the smell of dead bodies. everywhere people feel the presence of lingering restless spirits and ghosts. there is so much to say... right now things are in a state of chaos..there are still aftershocks coming everyday. people trying to get what they can out of their house before more buildings fall. other people stealing and robbing stores and houses like madmen.

And to think i was just starting to realize how special of an area my native ancestral land of khutch really is. i was even planning to spend an extended amount of time traveling the region with my father this upcoming month.. now many of the villages and areas i was going to visit no longer exist.

So in this time of adversity, i ask two things from all of you:

(i) Cherish your days on earth and truly live in the present. As we see, it can end at any time. Nature sees no difference between the rich and poor, between black, indian, or white....

(ii) Consciously try to be a supportive and grounding force for your family and community. One thing I have learned while in India but especially over the last week is the way people in this country take care of each other. Even in Khutch, the government was so late to arrive, instead it was people helping each other that saved so many lives. Sometimes I feel in america that we all get so wrapped up in our own lives & goals that we aren't there for our families and friends. So I ask all of you to make the extra effort even if it means being a little less successful or less ambitious; investing in people and community is an investment worth making. For that is truly India's strength, her wealth of community and people resourcs..

and lastly please never forget the force of nature and remember to honour her daily and humble yourself...ironically, everything manmade crumbled but the trees remain standing and unharmed

I appreciate all of your support and condolescences.

until we all meet again face to face, your sister Ami (ami_zota@yahoo.com)