Dubai: A Kerala woman’s humble act of kindness, to help flood victims in the Indian state, has made her a social media star this week. Mary Sebastian, a daily wage worker who lives in Kumbalangi on the outskirts of Kochi city, tucked in a Rs100 (Dh4.9) note inside a food packet she had prepared for victims living in the coastal village of Chellanam. Their houses and belongings had been washed away due to soil erosion and flooding, after heavy rains in the state this week.
The Kannamaly Police, were collecting food packages from neighbouring villages to help the affected people of Chellanam. And, Sebastian’s food packet was one of these. A cop spotted the currency note, and calling it a “Rs100 note worth millions,” in Malayalam, he posted the photo on Facebook, on August 8.
The secret act of charity, suddenly went viral and local news channels traced the Rs100 note back to Sebastian.
According to local news reports, she said: "The people there had no means to earn a livelihood since they could neither go out into the sea nor to the city where they had jobs as daily wage earners due to the angry seas and the COVID-19 lockdown.”
It was during this time that the local self-government body officials started collecting food packets from nearby villages that were not so impacted by heavy rains. With the help of a neighborhood WhatsApp group, an appeal was made for food donations, which got a positive response from the people.
Feeling distressed and wanting to be of some help, Sebastian decided to participate.
"So, when I packed the lunch comprising rice, vegetable and prawns along with another curry, I hid a Rs100 note in the packet," Mary explained. “The weather is cold, and I thought the money that I would attach with the food packets would help the families that get these packets to have some tea for a few days,” she added.
According to one report, explaining her reason to do so: "When it is cold, I drink tea occasionally. I thought this money will help the families that get the packets to have some tea."
Reportedly, her son Sebin said: "My mother had lost her job at the caterers and was doing odd jobs as an MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) worker. The Rs100 came out of the wage she received after the last MNREGA job she had done.”
"I am so proud of my mother," he wrote on his Facebook page.
Mary Sebastian added: "I did not want anyone to know that I am doing this. But, now everyone has learnt about it. I was honoured by the circle inspector. I have also began receiving several phone calls.”
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Mary says her family too has been a victim of floods. Last year, her house was flooded, and she says she knows how tough it is to be at the receiving end of flood fury. "We know how difficult the situation is when the sea surges. Besides, people in Chellanam are also facing the COVID-19 crisis. People in Kumbalangi are a generous lot; we share whatever we have with others, even if it is food," says Mary.