Arvind and his friends from the Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) had a huge task at hand when they heard from the government officials that the embankment near their village – Pakri, had broken. Pakri is a nondescript village in Muzaffarpur district in Bihar where agriculture is the main source of livelihood.
“As soon as we heard from the officials, we quickly took out our motorbikes and started alerting nearby villages. The district administration had sounded off the flood alarm, but villagers were still not ready to leave their homes,” said Arvind.
On August 14 2017, the embankment near Pakri village broke; waters gushed into the village and within no time devastated the whole area. A part of the primary school caved in, creating panic among teachers and students. They had to be evacuated within minutes…
Speaking about his engagement as a YAP member, Arvind shares, “Attending the trainings and meetings helped us in evacuating people and save lives. We guided them to higher grounds and quickly sealed off the primary school as people have a tendency to take refuge in permanent structures.”
“Cattle is not just livelihood for us, they are treated as part of the family. While we were evacuating people, they insisted on getting their cattle, which was a huge challenge for us,” shares Seema, another youth mobiliser from Pakri.
“We are also working with the ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwives) and Anganwadi Helpers to spread awareness about trafficking. Young girls and women are most vulnerable during crises situations. With the help of ANM didis (as they are fondly called), we are spreading awareness and are playing an active role in sensitising our village elders,” she added.
Youth Advisory Panel is a group of selected youths from the project areas of Plan India in Bihar. They play a huge role in planning and implementing programmes apart from regular monitoring. The YAP members are trained and capacitated and act as empowered youths who work towards the benefit of their community. In Pakri village, the YAP consists of 16 youths, amongst which, there are 5 girls.
Passing through the flood ravaged villages, one can feel the pain, and sufferings that the community is enduring. While waters will recede with time, the overcast sky worries the people, they cannot afford another day of rain – they have lost enough! They are eagerly waiting to get back to their houses, inspect what remains, what’s gone.
When the dust settles, they would need to think about livelihoods, rebuild houses….a long road to recovery.
Written by Debanjana Choudhuri, Manager, Marketing and Communications