>Living Rise

Swimming through murky waters to rescue stranded souls

On August 8, 2019, Nilambur, a town in Kerala was flooded after the Chaliyar river overflowed its banks due to incessant rain. With the water level rising as high as that of a two-storey building, the residents of the town needed to be evacuated urgently. Getting word of the situation, Hareendra Joshi, along with a friend, travelled 40km to join the rescue efforts at the site.

Upon reaching, they saw that members of the fire brigade had already begun rescue operations using four boats. Realising that this would not be enough, Hareendra and his friend went to work and quickly made a makeshift raft out of tyre tubes, wooden sheets and a rope.

Although uncertain of the capability of the raft, they boarded it anyway and set out to look for stranded souls and bring them to safety. They paddled through dangerous, murky waters ridden with broken tree logs and branches to continue their search.

They finally came upon a building on the banks of the river, with five migrant workers trapped inside. The water current was deathly strong, and the situation at hand was precarious, but that did not deter Hareendra. He tied a rope to the top of the building and asked the occupants to carefully lower themselves onto the raft one by one. However, the real struggle began when, with seven people on board, the raft slowly started sinking to one side. Amidst all this, Hareendra kept his nerves steady, directed the people to adjust positions to keep the raft evenly balanced and paddled faster. They reached the rescue boats in time and successfully saved everyone. After this, they continued for the next 24 hours and eventually rescued 15 people that day.

Despite the overwhelming forces of nature at play, heroes like Hareendra prioritise the greater good, and always find a way to Rise to the occasion.

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