Lighter mood at flood relief centres…: Dance in the time of distress

Kushalnagar/ Suntikoppa:  If actor and story-teller Manu Jose from Kerala is entertaining children housed at a relief camp in flood-ravaged Changanaserry in Kerala with his dance moves and gripping story-telling, children who are sheltered at various relief camps in flood-hit Kodagu district are being entertained through music, dance and games by volunteers.

Many volunteers and members of local cultural associations — some of them have even come from Mysuru and Bengaluru — are performing at relief camps in Kodagu and presenting cultural activities mainly to entertain and relieve stress.

Apart from entertainment, activities like yoga, physical drills and community building activities are being taught at various relief camps. Also, the traditional Kodava Valaga is being played, encouraging the children to dance. Almost all the children, women and the elderly are involved in such programmes.

children dancing at a relief camp in Kodagu

A heartening factor is that even birthday parties are celebrated with cakes being cut so that the children are not deprived of their share of celebrations in the time of distress.

At Suntikoppa, relief camps have been established at St. Mary’s Church, Sri Rama Mandira and at a nearby Madrasa. This apart, several schools at Madapura have been converted into shelter homes. More than 300 survivors have been sheltered in each relief camp. Early in the morning, the inmates of relief camps are led into open space or a wide room at the camp and are trained in yoga. They are made to squat on the floor and asked to do basic exercises mainly to relieve them from fatigue.  

Soon after tea, it is time for some traditional games like “Kunte Bille”, “Chowka-Bara”, running race, musical chair and hopping exercises. According to volunteers, these activities catch children’s attention and they voluntarily join the games, without any convincing.

Yoga being taught to children at a relief camp in Suntikoppa.

“Apart from physical activity, we are reading story and comic books where there are chapters that are full of life. These stories enable children to imagine and be creative and will relieve their stress. We want all the people in the relief camps to come out of trauma they have experienced,” said a volunteer who was dancing along with the children to the tunes of Kodava Valaga.

“They can’t completely move on from the tragedy that has happened. Some of the elders are cynical towards these sessions but the idea is to get them back on their feet. We are trying our best to make them focus on other activities instead of brooding over the loss,” a volunteer said.

Special birthday cake

Yesterday, at one of the relief camps in Madikeri, a little girl Mounashree celebrated her birthday. A special cake was brought by volunteers and she was made to cut the cake amidst a huge applause from other children. Later, the little girl was blessed by Suttur Seer Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji. Mounashree hails from Kalur village that has been wiped out by floods.

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