Archer Rahul Banerjee helps cyclone relief efforts

The archer and his friends have visited many towns to provide tarpaulin, food items and medicines in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan.

Archer Rahul Banerjee has embarked on a journey across West Bengal to help the people of his state bounce back from Cyclone Amphan.

The cyclone had hit eastern India and some parts of Bangladesh over a week ago, leaving some dead and scores homeless, with the heavy rainfall leading to severe water-logging and loss of electricity.

The natural disaster added to the already ongoing crisis due to COVID-19 and Rahul Banerjee’s priority was to help provide essential items to people from the remote villages.

“The people there had lost their homes and could not buy food. So, I decided to pool some funds and drive down to provide tarpaulin and dry food items,” the archer told the Olympic Channel.

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The last few days have taught us the value of “a roof above our head” and “food on the table”…necessities that have become never-ending nightmares for thousands as they scramble to rebuild homes and feed families after #CycloneAmphan has left nothing but destruction behind…. Day 3 yesterday was spent at Kultuli…roads are in bad condition, acres of land lay spoilt due to salinity and locals have already exhausted the little stock of food they had in storage….we distributed around 300 packets of supplies, along with tarpaulin sheets too...our day ended with a visit to Patuli where we provided some essentials. Yet another successful endeavor thanks to some wonderful people pitching in… while we are on the ground, the teary eyes and heartwarming smiles keep reminding us that it wouldn’t be possible to move ahead in this noble cause without your help, support, and prayers! Your contribution means a lot….it doesn’t always have to be monetary…you can provide dry foods, medicines, sanitary napkins, old clothes….even if you can pass on the name of a contact who has better reach, that would be useful in such situations…like I have said every bit matters... let us all do what we can! Thanks 🙏 . . . . . . . #amphan #amphancyclone #humanity #amphanrelieffund #amphanreliefwork #amphanrelieffundraiser #supercyclone #help #relief #selfinitiative

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Rahul Banerjee first took the initiative with his fashion designer friend Abhishek Roy and later enlisted two of his close friends, tattoo artist Niloy Das and dancer Priyam Middey, to help with the process.

The two were more than willing to lend a hand and after the first trip, they realized that the preceding lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic meant that medicines were in short supply.

“Not many of them were practising social distancing. So, we also decided to distribute masks – we must have donated around 1,500 so far – along with basic medicines like cough syrup,” added Rahul Banerjee. “We also gave some sanitary napkins to help the women.”

The archer, who recently became a father, has been travelling for the better part of a week and has dropped his wife and child off at his in-laws’ home in Kolkata, where he is based.

His posts on social media also helped Rahul Banerjee in getting a lot of donations from around the country and even abroad, with the funds helping them provide a mini-truck of supplies instead of just his own car.

“The situation is dire in some places and the locals have been a big help, taking us on their motorcycles wherever a car could not enter,” the London 2012 Olympian said. “Those efforts have helped us reach a lot more people.”

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Day 2 - Today we provided relief at Sandeshkhali …heartbroken to see the conditions there…everything has been washed or blown away…areas are still waterlogged…I had to park my car far away and the civic police escorted us to the locals…when they spotted us it was like they had struck gold, so eager they were just to grab a few packets of basic necessities…the smiles on their faces when they thanked us was totally worth the effort! We are doing our bit to make their lives slightly easier till they get back on their feet (it is going to be a long and hard journey), so a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us with funds, dry foods, tarpaulins, old clothes, etc. and are relentlessly working to secure more items...but then again we can always do more….so once again I urge you all to spread the message far and wide…and contribute in any way possible…every bit matters! #amphan #amphancyclone #humanity #amphanrelieffund #amphanreliefwork #amphanrelieffundraiser

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The next step for Rahul Banerjee in his relief work is to set-up community kitchens in a few towns with the help of volunteers and panchayat heads while he continues to be on the road.

“We must have distributed 900 packets so far, and our target is to double that number, possibly reach 2,000 soon,” the 33-year-old signed off.

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