In late January 2014, we got an opportunity to visit the riot stricken areas of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, These two districts of UP were hit by a communal upsurge in late September last year. Nearly a thousand families were dislocated and had to live in the 27 relief camps, which were spread across the two places. Aid in terms of food, shelter and clothing were provided by several international NGOs, and partially by the Government. Other basic amenities like drinking water, sanitation and medical help were also arranged as a temporary set up in the nearby vicinity of the camps.
CARE was one of the NGOs providing support in these relief camps. As a part of this response, I, along with 19 other CARE team members, was able to witness the different aspects of life of the people, who had been forced to leave their homes and had to survive in these relief camps.
The whole visit was an enriching experience for me. It was amazing to see the resilience in people, as they tried to move ahead with a new life, equipped only with the minimal basic amenities. The fear of fresh violence still gripped the minds of the people, which prevented them from going back to their native places.
The people were struggling hard to find alternative sources of income and livelihood opportunities in the new places. The men of these villages were steadily trying to get back on their feet and were going out in search of wages, while the women were struggling to accommodate their families in the small spaces within the tarpaulins and tents, which were available to them
In this scenario, seeing the children inspired me the most. Their vitality seemed to be unperturbed by the consequences and the circumstances around them. They continued to play, run around and make friends with other children from various places. These children crowded around any new people in the camp, showed inquisitiveness about their stories and would invite the new comers to their new “homes” in the camps. The difficulties that the families were going through could in no way put down the indomitable spirits reflected in the smiles of these children.

Sreeparna Ghosh
Project Manager, West Bengal
CARE India