Cyclone Okhi experiences shared at World Social Forum

By Irudya Jothi SJ

Salvador: A team from Kerala led by a Catholic priest shared about relief and rehabilitation of the victims and survivors of cyclone Okhi of Kerala during the 13th edition of World Social Forum (WSF) that ended on March 17 with the assertion to resist.

Father Lenin Raj of Trivandrum Latin archdiocese represented the Trivandrum Social Service Society in the Forum along with his teammate, Suja Das.

They worked hard on the relief and rehabilitation of the victims and survivors of monster cyclone Okhi that ravaged Kerala’s southern coast in December 2017.

Nearly 100 fishermen are still missing after the powerful storm.

“I am quite impressed that thousands of people across the world come together to share their views on different themes pertaining to the need of the hour,” Father Raj said.

Besides working for the fisherwomen he also works for the welfare of women and children in the diocese.

The theme of the 13th edition of WSF in Salvador, Brazil, “to resist is to create, to resist is to transform” has been well expressed through hundreds of seminars and workshops.

Raj said he is happy to see that people all over the world are concerned about the sustainability and future of human existence. They expressed these concerns through their art and varied expressions.

He along with his teammate actively participated in the group discussions and shared about the struggles of fisherwomen as they play a major role in the social economy of Kerala.

The common issues like ecology, sustainability and action against human trafficking, food security, trade relations of nations, globalization, domestic violence, indigenous people’s rights, feminist movements, racism and other related activities are taken up with many activists from across the globe.

These five days experience has enriched my reflective thinking acknowledging Raj Lenin and I take a sea of experiences back to Kerala and India.

Suja L. Das, who works in the TSSS for more than two decades says, “The WSF is a more socio-cultural expression of the people from all over the world and many people like her delighted to be a part of the events.”

Das felt the opening of the WSF was not well organized but the seminars and discussions were very informative and with depth.

She said, “I shall try to help my organization to move in this direction for the future welfare of all. When got an opportunity she says that she expressed the struggles of the fisherwomen and especially during the challenging times of cyclones.

Sabbas Ignatius, a priest from Kerala but now doing his research in Rome, also expressed happiness on his participation and learning on the movements in different parts of the world as he focuses on the social teachings of the Church for his research.

Though he is exposed to the western world, he said, “This is the first time he got the opportunity to attend a mega social event of WSF.

Civil society members and human rights activists gathering ‘to resist to create and resist to transform’ is a hope to the humanity.

“I could intervene on the matters of ethnic discrimination, challenges of eco-villages and eco-cities, Kerala experience on economic solidarity,” said Ignatius, a student of Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

“The need of networking with different social activists and organization is a lesson I would like to take back to my home,” he added.

The curtain of the 13th edition of WSF comes down with a deep sense of conviction and belief that, ‘to resist is to create and to resist is to trans.’

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