We had a hail storm yesterday, caused by something called ‘Western Disturbance’. There was very loud and very frightening thunder and lightening. Very strong wind that were blowing since 9.30 -10 pm and then the rain started around 3 am and lasted till almost 5 am. This is an annual event that happens around mid February once a year. If it is cold enough and we are lucky we can collect hail and enjoy the last bit of winter that will soon change into a hot and dry summer within a month.
For all of us who stay in houses, this is a routine occurrence, a minor inconvenience when the electricity may go off and we will have to carry an extra woolen to work or school. But can you imagine what it is like for the small number of people who sleep on the streets and have no homes for shelter, not even a with tin roofs and brick or stone walls to go to. Some are seen to take shelter on railway platforms, and some are seen near religious places where there is an assembly area. But that too has a cost. Only those who can afford to pay an ‘informal’ rent, to who ever is in charge can go to these public places. Where do they go who have no money or are too vulnerable or sick to walk? I don’t know.
In this context I want to share with you my experience from the neighborhood of United Community Church in New Haven Connecticut, in America. That Church has a United Community centre that has an office and three class rooms and a large Hall. Here at the community centre they had a preschool and a day care centre through the 5 days of the week. On Friday there is a soup kitchen where anyone can get a bowl of soup free of cost. Once every three months during the change of season there is a jumble sale of second hand consumer goods and clothes, at half price. Every time there was a heavy snow storm there would be a night shelter for those who needed it.
With global warming these extreme weather conditions are likely to increase in frequency. I share with you, what is possible in case of climate change. Could we not each of us, in our immediate neighborhood identify such spaces and enroll the owners into taking these mitigative measures. It will not cost much, it will only take the willingness on part of us to be a community and take care of our less fortunate members.