KOCHI: “It was all about my instinct. Since I kayak regularly, I’m familiar with the water terrain. But that day I hopped onto a boat, grabbed a bunch of bananas and began rowing. What I saw is still etched in my mind,” says Justin Fernandez, a stand-up musician, about the Kuttanad floods. “Houses were submerged. People were surrounded by water on all sides yet there was not a drop to drink. It was an eye-opener.”
Justin then did a live on Facebook garnering more than a thousand views, thereby shedding light on the pathetic plight of flood victims. Along with the Periyar Adventure Club, Justin helmed relief efforts to help the flood-affected people. His constant updating on social media brought friends, family, and even strangers who pitched in with food, basic amenities such as sanitary napkins, and money. His arrival on a boat filled with bananas, biscuits and bottled water was eagerly awaited by the people, who shed tears of joy.
Just over ten days, Justin and his team managed to deliver Rs 10 lakh worth of food and other materials. However, Justin does not consider himself to be a saviour. “Most of us are immensely lucky to lead comfortable lives. “Eventually, it comes down to giving back,” he says. In an age where an outward show of philanthropy is considered phony, the Alleppey-based Justin begs to differ. “Normally the left hand should not know what the right hand does but I had to make people sit up and take notice of what was happening around them,” he adds.
None can guess that this man is a regular sight at stand up music performances and live gigs at high profile events at Kochi. He performs impromptu covers of songs from the likes of singers like Jim Reeves to John Legend, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Justin’s greatest strength lies in the fact that he’s a constant learner. Be it music or the language that he has to sing in. This would help him to write and compose songs, his immediate goal.
A guitarist, he strongly believes that everyone in the world must know one musical instrument in life. Nevertheless, the Kuttanad floods have changed his life and Justin hopes to continue helping the people of Kuttanad. “I watch the videos on my phone every day. It is a wake-up call and continues to fuel my desire to help more people,” he says, signing off.