‘I felt for­tu­nate to help’

Jhanavi Ravi, 12, made use of her tech skills to help those af­fected by the floods

Friday - - LITTLE HEROES -

Jhanavi Ravi, a stu­dent of Gems Our Own English High School in Dubai, and her fam­ily had been mon­i­tor­ing the news about the floods in Ker­ala al­most ev­ery day with a feel­ing of help­less­ness. They were spend­ing part of the sum­mer hol­i­days in Dubai and were won­der­ing how they could of­fer a help­ing hand to the af­fected. ‘All those lives, all the prop­erty lost, all those peo­ple in tears... it was heart-rend­ing,’ says the 12-year-old, who speaks with an elo­quence that be­lies her age.

Jhanavi got a chance to help in her own way when her fam­ily vis­ited her grand­mother in Ker­ala. ‘I told my par­ents I want to vol­un­teer for re­lief work, and they agreed.’

While at first she won­dered whether she would re­ally be able to do any­thing as a kid, she ended up do­ing a lot. ‘The first thing that came to my mind is to use tech­nol­ogy,’ she says. ‘I’m a quick learner when it comes to all things tech. So for a web­site called Ker­ala Res­cue, I helped by reg­is­ter­ing all the re­lief camps in the var­i­ous dis­tricts. I cre­ated a Mi­crosoft Ex­cel sheet of the var­i­ous camps’ re­quire­ments for food, clothes, etc. and had it on the site. I would then fol­low that up with a phone call af­ter a few days en­quir­ing if they’d re­ceived all that they needed.

But Jhanavi wasn’t sat­is­fied just work­ing from the com­fort of her home, which thank­fully wasn’t af­fected as it was in an area in Kochi that saw sig­nif­i­cantly less flood­ing than other spots like the air­port. Keen to do more, she vol­un­teered to go to a re­lief camp, where she spent hours sort­ing and pack­ing hy­giene prod­ucts, food items, and other essen­tials to be dis­trib­uted to the af­fected peo­ple.

Jhanavi says that day helped her too, as much as it went on to help vic­tims; she made lots of friends in the camp, kids her age, and to­gether they man­aged to bring smiles to the gloomy mood. ‘I’m a clumsy per­son, so I was wor­ried I’d make a mess fill­ing flour and rice into bags, but ev­ery­one was so help­ful, they even made an apron out of news­pa­per for me. We felt very good about what we were do­ing. I felt for­tu­nate to be able to con­tribute.’

Jhanavi says her main take­away from that ex­pe­ri­ence was that even a lit­tle bit could go a long way. Jhanavi’s mother An­jana says she’s glad for the ex­pe­ri­ence her daugh­ter had, this hol­i­day be­ing such a de­par­ture from usual ones for her daugh­ter. ‘I used to think, why are kids so ob­sessed with tech­nol­ogy, but I’ve had a change of heart when I saw how well she made use of it dur­ing the floods. Tech does have its good side.’

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