Bapi Mondal is a Save the Children’s Field Consultant in West Bengal, India. When Cyclone Yaas swept into eastern India, the river water gushed into his village. Bapi worked alongside other rescue team members to rescue villagers and take them to the Cyclone Relief Centre. It was then that he heard a child’s cry from a nearby house. The house was located close to the river. When he entered, he found the 4-year-old child clinging to his mother’s arms. Both the mother and child were stuck in the house at the corner of their kitchen, a part of it was submerged underwater.
Bapi said he held the kitchen’s wall for support to ensure his own safety from the gushing water. He then reached out to the mother and asked her to hand over her child to him and slowly come out of the kitchen.
Bapi said: “I do not know how I could gather the strength and reach out for help. The only thing I could think of, at that moment, was to save those two precious lives”.
Both the mother and child are safe. The child is now staying with his family members at a safe house. The family has been provided with food and a COVID-19 kit (masks and soap) as government support.
Here is what Bapi Mondal had to say about the incident:
What were you doing when you saw the child?
I work as a Field Consultant with Save the Children India’s HBCC project ( that works towards sensitization of communities to ensure COVID appropriate behaviour) in Atpukur Gram Panchayat (Local Self Government) in Minakhan Block of North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, India. I rescued myself and my family members when the river water gushed into our village during the severely hit super cyclone Yaas. Our field team were in close coordination with the state’s rescue operation team, were working on the ground to ensure safety to villagers in low lying areas.
The river water became so turbulent that the water overflowed and gushed into the villages, breaking all embankments. In this scenario, we all started with the rescue work full-fledged, to rescue villagers and take them to the Cyclone Relief Centre. While I was doing so, I heard some feeble noise and a child’s cry from a nearby house.
How did you come across the child? Where was the child, and what danger was he in? Was he separated from his family? Why did he get separated?
As Cyclone Yaas hit the land, most low-lying areas got submerged underwater as rivers flowed above the danger level. The house was located closer to the river nearby, and this family could not come out towards a space place timely while the river water was gushing into the house. This was due to the impact of Cyclone Yaas and simultaneous high tide. I immediately realize the gravity of the situation. As I entered the house, he found the child clinging to his mother’s arms. Both the mother and child got stuck in the corner of their kitchen, as part of their kitchen got submerged underwater, and the mother-son duo could not come out, as the mother feared, that there might be some deadly snake that might bite her only child. It was then that I rescued the child named Bibek Pradhan. The child was crying bitterly as that small kid, almost 4 years old, got scared and frightened due to the excessive water flow and was traumatized by his mother’s scream. While the rest of the family members could reach a safe space, Bibek and his mother got stuck, as before leaving, the mother went into the kitchen with her son to get some food items from there for her son before leaving the house for a safe space. But within that split second, the water started gushing into their house as the nearby river embankment had broken down.
What did you think when you saw the child?
As I entered the kitchen, I found the mother and child clinging to each other, standing at the corner of the kitchen under waist-dip water and desperately crying out for help.
What did you do?
I immediately held the kitchen’s wall for support to ensure my own safety from the gushing water and reached out to the mother, asked her to handover Bibek to me and asked her to hold the Gamcha (towel) that was tied to my waist and slowly come out of the kitchen.
How do you feel?
I still have goosebumps. According to him, “I do not know how I could gather the strength! The only thing I could think of, at that moment, was to save these two precious lives”. He further added, “Now I feel happy that both are safe even amid this difficult time”.
Did the child say anything to you?
As I rescued Bibek and carried him in my arms to the Cyclone Rescue Center, he immediately stopped crying. Once we reached a safe place, Papiya and her family members had thanked him while little Bibek waved to Bapi with a smiling face.
How old is the child?
Bibek is all of 4 years.
What has happened to the child now?
Both the mother and child are now safe. The child is currently staying with his family members at a safe house, where they have been provided with food and COVID appropriate relief (mask, soap) as part of Government support.