‘I felt fortunate to help’
Jhanavi Ravi, 12, made use of her tech skills to help those affected by the floods
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.’