Disaster Relief

The greatest good –

is what we do to one another.

– Mother Teresa

Both the establishment of a Disaster Fund in 2004/05 and the resulting financial resources, together with the competent cooperation of PRAJNANA MISSION, enable HAND IN HAND to provide efficient emergency care and supply, as well as effective and sustainable aid during natural disasters and other emergency situations. HAND IN HAND – in cooperation with PRAJNANA MISSION – supports disaster victims in India with the greatest possible capacity and provides:

  • Emergency aid for life support in the event of natural disasters through medical aid, provision of food, hygiene articles and emergency packages
  • Help in rebuilding destroyed infrastructures, such as the construction of storm- and flood-proof, one-room houses
  • Agricultural land and seeds, as well as massive planting and reforestation
  • The promotion of sustainable lifestyles through the construction of:
    – Garden sites and wells
    – Farms for the protection of plants and animals (especially the Indian humpback cattle)
    – Biogas plants
    – Solar plants

Some Relief Actions


In late autumn of 1999, a cyclone, with tidal waves of unbelievable proportions, hit the Eastern Indian state of Odisha. Millions of people were affected, tens of thousands lost their lives, and countless children were left behind as half or full orphans. A handful of committed people from Europe wanted to help: That was the beginning of HAND IN HAND. The organisation for humanitarian help was founded in March 2000 in Vienna, Austria. The first Health Centre was opened, the planning of the Balashram Residential School took off and so did the foundation of other HAND IN HAND organisations in Europe and in the USA.


Thousands of people lost their lives again in the tsunami disaster in December 2004. However, rapid help could be provided through an immediate appeal for donations. This subsequently led to the establishment of the HAND IN HAND Disaster Fund.


In September 2008, incessant rains led to the mighty swell of the Mahanadi River and its tributaries. Large areas of Odisha were flooded, affecting a staggering four million people and causing at least 29 deaths. More than half a million people had to leave their villages. PRAJNANA MISSION acted immediately and provided many residents with basic necessities. After the disaster, HAND IN HAND provided assistance in the reconstruction of schools and residential buildings, and in the replanting of farmland.


Persistent rainfall in Chhattisgarh caused the water levels of the Hirakud reservoir to rise alarmingly, so that 59 of the 98 dam gates had to be opened at the facility (September 2011). Consequently, there were floodings in 19 out of Odisha’s 30 districts, which affected around two million people. For rapid first aid, HAND IN HAND distributed emergency packages with dry food and a survival kit with blankets, clothes, hygiene items and more. Emergency Medical Camps were set up as soon as the receding floodwaters allowed it. In addition, 1,900 grazing animals could be cared for by HAND IN HAND.



Only women, children and elderly villagers were at the remote village of Sanaphakana Nagaspur when a fire suddenly broke out. The men of the village were working as day laborers in nearby towns. But even they could not have stopped the rapidly spreading fire, as there was only one water pump available in the whole village. The villagers could only watch helplessly as all the thatched houses went up in flames – and with them the crops! Only a few brick walls remained. After an initial emergency supply, the village was rebuilt with the help of HAND IN HAND.



The gigantic cyclone “Phailin” reached the East coast of India on October 12 with wind speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour, causing widespread flooding and destruction. The whole situation was dramatically exacerbated by heavy rain. This resulted in one of the largest evacuations in India’s regions. The tropical storm had terrible consequences: Roofs were blown off houses, thousands of huts were washed away by the flood and in many areas, there was neither electricity nor working telephone lines. Officials from Prajnana Mission visited the emergency areas and quickly provided help by setting up First-Aid Camps as well as camps for animals.



In July, heavy rains caused severe flooding in many parts of India. In many districts, floods and landslides destroyed bridges, roads and entire villages. Tens of thousands of people lost all their possessions. HAND IN HAND, together with PRAJNANA MISSION and many local volunteers, organised rescue and relief projects.


On 3 May, just a few months after the Kerala disaster, a devastating cyclone with top speeds between 230 and 300 kilometres per hour hit the East coast of Odisha, including Puri. The tropical storm “Fani” caused huge devastation and destruction.

Hundreds of thousands of trees were uprooted and countless thatched houses were razed to the ground. Electric lines and telephone poles were badly damaged. For many weeks, the lives of the inhabitants were completely disrupted. The shortage of food, water, electricity and medicine created a catastrophic situation, leaving people desperate for help.

Our HCHC Health Centres provided medical care and material support in Balighai and its immediate surroundings. Mobile Medical Camps were set up at twelve locations in Odisha, which allowed about 1,200 residents to be treated. With the help of HAND IN HAND, PRAJNANA MISSION also supplied 13 villages with relief goods, and storm- and flood-proof, one-room houses were built for 500 affected families.


After the Brahmani River overflowed its banks in the Kendrapara district of Odisha in September, thus flooding the surrounding villages, PRAJNANA MISSION could again quickly intervene with Relief Projects: Mustard oil, grain powder, blankets and more necessary items, were distributed to about 300 affected people in the villages, and food for about 3,000 cows was provided as well.

2020 – 2022

The Corona crisis finally put all the previous disasters HAND IN HAND had experienced in Odisha into the background. After 20 years of effective aid, the organisation was suddenly confronted with sheer helplessness. They had to watch helplessly as one child after the other was taken by relatives from the Balashram School following government instructions, however, pushing the children straight back into extreme poverty. The school had to close and the children experienced, yet again, how fragile security could be in this world. The concern by everyone at Balashram and HAND IN HAND for their little protégés grew with each passing day: “Where were they sleeping? Did they have enough to eat? Were they well and would they be able to come back?” These were the anxious questions everyone was asking.

It was the second Corona wave, in April 2021, which hit the country with unimaginable force and severity. Due to lack of medical care, the number of infections rose explosively and with it the number of deaths. Going to the market to buy food became seriously dangerous. However, the greater the difficulties were becoming, the more donations were arriving at HAND IN HAND. Food deliveries could be organised and the Health Centres in Arua and Jagatpur finally had the means to implement effective prevention and hygiene measures. With the help of HAND IN HAND, they were also able to supply public hospitals with oxygen concentrators. This finally convinced the authorities to grant the children early permission to return to Balashram. After two extremely difficult years, the school operations could be resumed.


  • Hariharananda Balashram Residential School
  • “Chrysalis”
  • Tutoring Centre Arua


  • Hariharananda Health Centres (HCHC)
  • Mobile Medical and Dental Services
  • Health Camps