VISIT TO TSUNAMI HIT AREAS
Some excerpts of what we heard from the tsunami hit areas. Non-verbatim, essentially summary of what we heard and saw. Not knowing Tamil, had to rely on getting summaries from other guys in the group who could speak Tamil.
"We would like to get back to work. We don't want to be in these relief camps for very long. We were all fairly well off people before the tsunami hit us but the waves have broken our boats and mangled our fishing nets. We would like to live normal lives and return to work at the earliest.."
"There were three huge waves. The first one was milder, water came to waist level. Fortunately this gave us some forewarning. We all went up to the safety of terrace of a house. And then the second big one struck us. It was as tall as the palm trees and brought death and destruction.."
"We quickly gathered ourselves behind a concrete wall that saved us from the waves. My daughter was almost pulled away by the tsunami. I got hold of her hair and pulled her back in.."
"We clutched ourselves to a palm tree. But the waves lashed so hard that my grand daughter's feet rocked repeatedly into a stone and injured the feet. She is getting treated in the hospital now.."
These were some of the things we heard at the villages we went to. After reaching Chennai and brainstorming for a few hours, we decided that it is better to head south to the areas that were most affected, instead of going around Chennai where lot of relief materials have already come in. We went to a few villages near Chidambaram and identified the needs of the people. Men were eager to return to work and in most need of fishing materials that were destroyed by the tsunami. With this in mind. we bought fishing nets and distributed among the people of Pillamedu village near Chidambaram. After consulting with AID India in Chennai, we also had carried a few sports materials such as cricket bats and volley balls to get the villagers to indulge into something and provide momentary relief from the aftermath. These were welcome very warmly by the people. We even managed to pitch in for a cricket match and a few more games with them. But the best moments turned out to be gathering the kids from a sea-side village and spending some time with them - getting them to draw something on papers with crayons and seeing them brightening up to their drawings.
Keep looking at the weblogs of Anita, Kiruba and Suman for more details. I promise to post a few pictures in the days to come.
There is still a lot of need for material help, donation and volunteers. AID India has been doing a great job in these areas and they have been very well organized and full of information. If you would like to help by any means contact them via their website - www.aidindia.org