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Riva Tulpule and other volunteers who made the campaign a big success Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A community campaign led by some Indian expat girls in the UAE has helped send over 2.4 tonnes of relief materials to the flood-hit Konkan region of Maharashtra.

Torrential rains in late July had caused massive floods and landslides in large parts of the western Indian state, claiming the lives of more than 210 and isolating several areas for days.

Tens of thousands of people were affected, especially in the Konkan region, in areas such as Chiplun, Mahad and Khed. More than 10,000 people in these area were displaced with no access to clean water, food and clothing. While they are assisted by the governments and NGOs back home, Indian expats in the UAE have also been doing their bit in supporting their compatriots in distress. Disturbed by destruction

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From left to right: Shruti Chorge, Ayesha Sarguro, Mariam Sheikh and Riva Tulpule, who led the community campaign

Deeply disturbed after seeing the images and videos of the flood-hit people in Konkan region received from her father’s friend, who was stuck in Chiplun, 11th grader Riva Tulpule, 16, a student of GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai, decided to launch a community campaign to collect clothes and blankets for the flood victims.

As reported by Gulf News on July 20, Riva’s friend Shruti Chorge, 17, had joined the campaign.

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Riva Tulpule, founder of WeCareDXB, who launched the Konkan relief drive.

The duo put-up a video appeal and shared it through the Facebook and Instagram handles of Riva’s platform WeCareDXB which she had founded in 2017.

Through WeCareDXB, Riva had connected with thousands of students, adults and corporates across the country to involve them in various environmental drives such as electronic waste recycling and other social initiatives like menstrual hygiene for tribal Indian girls and ‘kindness packs’ for blue-collar workers in Dubai.

As the message spread, they were joined by young likeminded supporters- Ayesha Sarguro, 16, Mariam Sheikh,22, and Reem Dalwai, 25, to make the five-day campaign that was launched on July 27, a success. “Together, we set up six collection points across Dubai and Sharjah,” said Riva.

Massive community support

She said the team received massive support from the Indian expat community members and others.

“The entire NRI Indian community came forward in response to our appeal. It was a classic example of how a community comes together for a good cause,” said a jubilant Riva.

“Peshwa Restaurant owner Sachin Joshi offered his centrally located restaurant in Karama as one of the collection points. Members of Maharashtra Mandal, Gulf Maharashtra Business Forum Global and other supported in a big way. And in just five days, over three truckloads of clothes and blankets were received.”

Chirantan Joshi, owner of E-Movers, offered logistics support to collect all the material from the collection points, whereas Mohanna Kelkar, director of Global Indian International School offered the school auditorium space to the team to sort and repack all the received material.

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Community volunteers helping the coordinators to segregate and pack clothes and blankets

Wearing customised T-shirts gifted by Mahir Printing, Riva and other volunteers spent one full day, emptying over 150 boxes and sorting and repacking all the aid neatly into 110 boxes with over 13,000 clothes for shipment.

The clothes were segregated into blankets, and categories of men’s, women’s and kids before packing to ease the distribution.

Global Logistics firm Hellmann’s stepped in to offer end-to-end logistics support.

The aid shipment is currently in transit and sent to Red Cross Society of India which will then further forward it to Raigad district administration.

“The goods are expected to reach Raigad in a couple of days and will be distributed to the needy in Mahad and Chiplun area with the help of local administration under the supervision of Guardian Minister of Raigad Aditi Tatkare.”

Riva said her father, Rahul Tulpule, a Dubai-based businessman and vice-president of Gulf Maharashtra Business Forum, played a key role in helping the team tie up with the Red Cross Society and the state and district administrations.

Lessons at times of crises

Shruti, a former student of GEMS Our Own English High School, who is currently a student in Pune and attending her classes online from Dubai, said: “We were overwhelmed by the response we got for the campaign. Some people even explained their experience of being affected by similar situations which made me realise how important the campaign is. It was also an opportunity to learn many things, especially the power of social media.”

Mariam, a social media influencer who sent out an appeal to thousands of followers and friends, said: “I think in times like these, humanity shows compassion and kindness. When people are in need, people, who can support, need to be there for them. That is how the world works. I think COVID-19 has made us a lot more compassionate and humble and made us realise strongly that nothing matters more than the lives of people.”

Reem, who runs an advertising and printing firm with her father, was active in virtual coordination of the campaign since she was quarantined after contracting COVID-19.

“I had never met her. We got connected for this campaign through Mariam and Ayesha (student of GEMS New Millennium School). She (Reem) could not come over to help with packing, but she did a great job in coordinating the collection,” said Riva.

“I thank the entire community that came forward with an open heart to support the campaign,” she added.