The Vishnu Mandir and the Bharati Dance Academy Donates Flip Flops for the Philippines
By Bharati Kemraj
It was a horrific vision for everyone looking at their television or seeing first hand the damages caused by Typhoon Haiyan that affected thousands of lives in the Philippines on Friday, November 8, 2013. For one Hindu Temple in the Bronx it only took a day to arrange a collection of footwear for individuals looking to rebuild and find hope. Flip Flops for the Philippines was arranged by the Vishnu Mandir and the Bharati Dane Academy where 500 pairs of flip flops and shoes were donated by families and friends.
"I heard Deputy Inspector of the 49th Precinct announced at a Community Board 11 meeting that they are asking for flip flops as a donation that will be given to people affected by the Super Typhoon and right away I started thinking and went to work on my phone,” said Bharati Kemraj from the Bharati Dance Academy. “The next day, after several texts, e-mails and calls, I reached out to the DI and told him that the Vishnu Mandir Hindu Temple in the Community Board 9 area would give about 500 pairs of footwear. He was amazed and with appreciation in his voice he said that he would arrange for pick up not knowing that he would come himself along with a Community Affairs Officer,” added Kemraj.
On Sunday, November 24, 2013 a line was formed as Devotees of the Vishnu Mandir and Students of the Bharati Dance Academy joined together to stack the boxes containing 500 pairs of flip flops and shoes into the NYPD Van. “Take a look at the line and smiles of the people as they move the boxes. These are members here in our community coming together to help those in need,” said Ganesh Basil. As a longtime member of the Temple, Basil remembers several occasions where fellow worshipers assisted in lending a helping hand to other Countries during or after certain disasters including China, India and Guyana. “This is what giving back is all about,” he shouted as he went around the line to move more boxes.
“I read somewhere that the people in the Philippines needed footwear and after talking to my Supervisor, DI Johnson, I got approval to move forward and here we are collecting 500 pairs of footwear,” said Officer Jay Sturdivant of Community Affairs as he loaded the boxes into the vehicle.
“Typhoon Haiyan affected hundreds of families as it swept through the Philippines and this is just a small way of helping those trying to get back on their feet,” said Deputy Inspector Andy Johnson, 49th Police Precinct. “When Bharati mentioned that the people of the Temple would donate I did not expect for it to happen so quickly or that the number of flip flops and shoes would be in the hundreds,” added DI Johnson who carried the last box, placed it into the packed space and closed the doors.
As of this weekend, the death toll from Typhoon Haiyan reached 5,235 with a further 1,613 missing. For more information about Flip Flops for the Philippines or to donate, contact Community Affairs at (718) 918-2025 or the 49th Precinct at (718) 918-2000.
Organizers: Deputy Inspector Andy Johnson, 49th Police Precinct and Police Officer Jay Sturdivant of Community Affairs
Sponsors: The Vishnu Mandir & the Bharati Dance Academy
Event Coordinator: Bharati S. Kemraj
Publicist: Chandra Sukul
Photo Credit: Shanti Mangar
Special Thanks: Pandit Vishnu, Pandit Vyaas, Pandit Krishna and Chandra Sukul; Navin Singh and all Members