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‘Not all superheroes wear capes.’ Saluting the bravery of Varad Karmali

by Sybil Rodrigues

The short version ...

  • This is the inspiring story of Varad Karmali and a group of youngsters who braved the floods, to reach out to people who were stranded in the interiors of Goa.
  • #GoenkarGoenkarank is stories written by you, about ordinary Goans doing extraordinary things.

India has never had a dearth of people we can look up to. Right up from our freedom fighters that fought for our independence, sportspeople who make us proud with their achievements and young guns across the country who are a source of inspiration to us all. As we usher in another glorious year of our Independence, we have an inspiring story of a couple of young men who braved the floods, to reach out to people who were stranded in the interiors of Goa. While incessant rains lashed the smallest state in India, many small villages in the interiors, turned into islands. One couldn’t get in or get out. A post on Facebook asking for help caught the eye of Varad Karmali, an off-roader by passion, who then decided to help those stranded. 

Varad Karmali
Varad working with the authorities to aid in the rescue operations

Going off-road to help

Varad Karmali is no professional rescue operator, yet he put up a post on Facebook which was then shared by many people on Facebook as well as Whatsapp. The post stated, “Guys if anyone needs help with food packets or any kind of rescue from submerged parts of Goa, do let us know. We are ready with our 4×4 jeeps.”

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The post quickly went viral and had more than 800 shares. Varad is a part of a club of off-roading vehicles owners wherein nine out of 14 vehicles can get into the water. These vehicles were used to rescue flood victims. There were several others who were part of the rescue team. Clifford Fialho, Amol Sardessai, Shon Coelho, Akhil Nadkarni, Dr Mazhar Shaikh and a few others.

Of course, they had help from Anant Malik, the joint-mamlatdar and a local resident of Pernem who supported the rescuers in their mission. Making the best possible use of his position as a government official he made arrangements for food and water. 

Varad Karmali
Varad handing out food packets

Paying it forward

Malik urges the people of Goa to support such youngsters and their initiatives which will encourage other youngsters to do self-service. Varad Karmali and team even delivered medical supplies to a family who couldn’t leave the house as their child was sick. It is extremely difficult to move a person from land to a moving boat due to the force of water. But Karmali and his team persisted. Malik distributed food packets as well as water bottles. 

A trekker, Swapnil Gurav joined in the rescue efforts and helped in evacuating flood victims and delivering food wherever required. The roads not being visible, Swapnil used his jeeps that could go 4 feet underwater. He even requested a friend to make vada pav so that hungry and needy victims could be fed. Swapnil stressed the importance of everyone doing their bit and hopes that such a situation won’t be repeated. 

Varad Karmali
The team of youngsters who risked their lives to help others

Going beyond the call of duty

Varad Karmali and his team of off-roaders undertook rescue missions in Chicule, Arabo, Dhargal and Sal. This group of young men did it all on their own, without the help of the Government, Facebook “warriors” or any other activist who otherwise make a hue and cry over everything, on Social Media. It was extremely disappointing that none of the government authorities or the major media houses in Goa took note of the people in distress, especially in remote areas. Only Gomantak Times ran a story on these brave youngsters, in Sunday’s edition.

It is people like Varad and his team, who show us Goans what true Goemkarponn is. One doesn’t need superpowers to be a superhero.  Good is not a thing you are. It is a thing you do. Thank you Varad and team. May the universe bless you all abundantly. Along With the hoisting of the national flag and singing of the national anthem, let’s salute our heroes who gave their all without expecting anything in return, and performed selfless service to people who required it the most.

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