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செவ்வாய், பிப்ரவரி 01, 2011

Youth Red Cross volunteers clean up tsunami-hit island

CUDDALORE:

         The first-ever State-level ‘Field study camp' for Youth Red Cross volunteers was held at Pichavaram near Chidambaram on Monday under the auspices of Annamalai University and Killai Town Panchayat.

          As many as 120 volunteers, including a fair number of girls, drawn from 12 universities such as Annamalai University, Anna University-Tiruchi, Bharathiar University, Bharathidasan University, Madurai-Kamaraj University, Periyar University, Sathyabama University and Sastra University participated in the week-long camp. On the penultimate day of their soujourn on Monday, the volunteers wearing red T-shirts and white caps with the Red Cross symbol and, accompanied by Annamalai University YRC coordinator K.V.Balamurugan and Killai Town Panchayat Chairman S.Killai Ravindran, set out on at least 10 motorised boats that sailed through the mangrove forests to the tsunami-hit Chinna Vaikkal island to clean up the place.

           En route, they scooped up with hand-held nets the litter left by tourists and holidaymakers from the backwaters. On landing at the island, the volunteers, armed with sweep sticks and bins, segregated the garbage dump there as bio-degradable and non-biodegradable categories and collected them in big containers to be shifted to the mainland for incineration. Mr. Killai Ravindran told The Hindu that for the past six days the local body was hosting the volunteers. They had been carrying out a series of service activities such as organising a veterinary camp in which 1,200 animals were vaccinated, a dental camp in which 2,200 students were screened and planted scores of saplings, thereby endearing themselves to the residents of the place.

           They were also imparted training in disaster management by the fire service and rescue personnel. They took out a rally in Killai to create awareness among the people about the adverse impact of plastic articles on ecology. Mr. Balamurugan said that Annamalai University had the distinction of having organised the maiden State-level camp approved by the Indian Red Cross Society that had funded the event to the extent of Rs.1 lakh.

             Based on the feedback to be obtained from the volunteers, a comprehensive report would be compiled and the copies sent to the Indian Red Cross Society and Annamalai University, Mr. Balamurugan said. S. Nithyanandan, a volunteer from Madurai-Kamaraj University, said that the camp helped in bonding with his counterparts from other parts of the State and the Killai residents, besides giving him an insight into the topography and the demography of the areas.

           He would share the experience with his fellow students in his university to motivate them to take up social services. For Vinodhini of Anna University-Tiruchi, both academic career and YRC camp were equally important. Nursing students Raisy Raja and Sirija, both from Eranakulam, felt that after attending the camp they were well informed about health care and conservation methods which would definitely improve their career prospects. There were specialised lectures and cultural programmes at the end of each day. The programme officers and the volunteers kept up the spirit throughout and were full of delectable episodes to share with their family members, friends, peers and neighbours.

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