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Reaching out to quake victims

Mandira Nayar

NEW DELHI: It was a chance for the next generation to make a difference for the future on `their' day. Back from a trip to Kashmir, a bunch of students from Delhi out to help people affected by the earthquake under the banner of Youth for Peace have decided to paint a picture that they feel has been lost in the fine-print of newspapers and the pictures on the small screen.

"We visited Tangdhar in Kashmir to distribute relief material in the area. There was a big problem of shelter. We distributed 2,000 tin sheds in the area. The winter is coming, if there are no shelters, people will die soon," said Kandala from Youth for Peace at a press conference here in the Capital. A race against time for the people with the long months of cold winter setting in soon, the biggest challenge for the victims of the earthquake is to survive the four to six feet of snow.

"Tents are useless as it is impossible to light a fire in them and you can't survive without a fire in this cold. The other thing we found was that the people are not pro-active. They seem to be waiting for something to happen. We left Kashmir on November 1 and it had started snowing on Sadhna Peak, so there is very little time to wait. The media reports have focussed on how the earthquake has brought us together, but while that is wonderful, we need to concentrate on the victims. There are still many people in dire-straits in this area," said Akash. "Tangdhar has about 7,000 households. As many as 5,178 houses are fully damaged, 600 partially, and 1,000 shops are affected. I think there are only three or four schools in the whole area that are still intact, so there is an urgent need to rebuild these schools for the children. We will concentrate our efforts in Badwan. It has 75 households and only two people employed in the government, the rest work for daily wages," said Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad (Act Now For Harmony and Democracy), an organisation, that also visited the area. Appealing for help to people in the area, the activists feel that it is important for the civil society to contribute generously.

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