Since Cyclone Debbie made landfall on March 28th, it has brought heavy downpours and flooding to many areas of Queensland, Australia.
In the small town of Murwillumbah (population: 8,523), ISKCON devotees from nearby New Govardhana have done what they know best to help flood victims back on their feet: feed them prasadam.
“This is the worst flooding the town has seen since 1954,” says Rupa Raghunath Das, a well-known Australian book distributor who has been helping with the prasadam relief effort.
“The Tweed River swelled up from the rains, and a lot of houses in the lower lying areas were flooded to their second storeys. All people’s belongings were destroyed, and their cars went under. Some people couldn’t escape their houses, so they ended up being stuck on their roofs for days without food or even water.”
As soon as the flood waters had receded, devotees came with prasadam. So far, they have fed around 1,000 people in Murwillumbah and two small neighboring villages, Tumbulgum and Condong.
Krsna Gana Das and his Govinda’s Catering team from New Govardhana farm have been cooking in their professional catering van, usually used to serve prasadam at music festivals around the country.
They’ve been joined by Rupa Raghunath, his wife Jyestha, and their daughters Vrndavanesvari, 7, Lalita Sakhi, 5, and Visakha Priya, 3, who have been cooking prasadam at their home and distributing it in takeaway containers.
Altogether around ten devotees have been serving kichari, koftas, halava and drinks to affected people. Sometimes they set up at one location, while at other times they go door to door.
“We’ve been finding door to door good, because a lot of people can’t get out of their houses or are not so inspired to leave them to go to the food points,” says Rupa Raghunath. “So if we come to them, we can reach more people.”
According to Krsna Gana, some people hadn’t eaten for days when devotees arrived at their doors.
“People were really touched, and many cried or gave us hugs when we brought them prasadam,” says Rupa Raghunath. “They were so happy to see us. It’s probably the most touching service I’ve ever done.”
While most people are able to take care of themselves now, the water is still subsiding in some areas, like nearby town Lismore.
“Their levee for the river busted, and heaps of houses completely went under on the main street,” says Rupa Raghunath. “We could have a big effect distributing prasadam there. So I hope at least some devotees are able to keep doing it for the next couple of weeks. People are so thankful – it’s really touching their hearts.”
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