Tsunami Relief - January 2005
The term was unknown in India until December 26th, 2004. Now there is not a person in India who does not know the name Tsunami . It was on that Sunday at about 8 AM, the Tsunami hit the shores of India and swept away an estimated 40, 000 people. The devastation is immeasurable with thousands of people still missing and unidentified. The property loss is huge. Villages, towns, boats, businesses existing few days ago are no more. The beach has extended itself into the villages and town submerging once inhabited areas. Boats and vehicles even trains were tossed like toys onto the shores and into the villages damaging houses and lives.
The, almost 30 feet tall, deadly water waves entered into many villages as far as 2 kilometers sparing no one. Any one who was able to climb up to a higher level escaped. Those who escaped now want to die as well since they have been spared without their loved ones.
Due to the fear of spreading disease, the health authorities quickly brought heavy machinery and dug huge pits in the beach and buried thousands un identified. If some one found a dead body of their family member, they were considered fortunate since they were able to bring a closure in their mind. For most families, they did not even get a chance to pay their last respects to their loved ones as the dead bodies were hauled in cranes for mass burial and cremation.
There were 47 villages in the area that Andrew Prakasam personally visited. 9 of them had not yet received any public aid. Close to 4000 plus families received some form of aid that we had packaged together. There are no stoves or cooking vessels left. Stones are gathered together for a stove and sticks are used for fuel. We had the opportunity to provide basics such as rice, blankets, cooking vessels, stoves, oil, groceries, clothes, buckets, mugs, utensils and much more to help them with immediate sustenance.
Children are very vulnerable and are mentally disturbed. Even during their sleep, any noise causes panic and they run as they fear another Tsunami is coming their way. Only God can deliver them from their fear. Many parents lost their children and many children have lost their parents. No amount of words of consolation or relief supplies would comfort a mother who has lost all of her children, husband and the rest of her family.
This bridge used to be crowded with traffic on top of the bridge, with fishermen cleaning and packaging fish from the previous night's catch under the bridge. Today, hundreds of dead bodies are buried under the broken bridge.
This lady used to do her cooking inside her home, but now cooks under the hot sun outside in an elementary school camp. These children ran away from their village fearing another Tsunami might get them the time around. They are now being cared for in a home which we are supporting.
The fathers seen in the picture have lost their wives and are heartbroken.
As we started talking to the people, victims of a horrifying experience, each had a story which was heart rending and very painful even to the listener.
This, now widow as a result of the Tsunami, told us that when the mega waves began to batter her, she was carrying her 1 ˝ year old son and holding her 4 year old daughter. The waves snatched both of them out of her hands. Later one man found her 4 year old daughter in another village and they were united. She was saved because her hair tangled in a tree. However, she is devastated that she has lost her husband and her precious 1 ˝ year old son.
Here is a lady standing where her house once used to be ! Now she has gathered a bundle of sticks of what is the remainder of her house. She will not leave her property but does not have any legal papers to prove that is herd. Many of the others do not even see the former location their house was on, as the beach has extended over it!
The almost 500 miles per hour waves devoured this woman’s husband, 2 sons and a daughter. She found only one of her sons 's clothing : one shirt and a pair of shorts . She has mounted these clothes on a photo frame and worships them. There is not even a picture of her family with her. She refuses to eat and to be comforted. She has nothing left except what she is wearing. Our relief team immediately provided things for her.
Can you imagine the horror of this woman who lost 40 of her family members to Tsunami? : Her husband and children, sisters, brothers, their spouses and their children. She escaped the Tsunami only because she went to church early to pray that Sunday morning. When she returned there was no one at home, and no home!
As the Share In Asia relief team, walked mile after mile they saw nothing but rubble of homes and shops. Just a few days prior it used to be a thriving market or residential area . What is left now is a bunch of sticks.
Among all of the sad stories, we found one heart warming story. This little baby was born on December 25th at 8 PM, just 12 hours before Tsunami hit India. She was ripped out of her mother's arms and tossed onto the sweeping waves. She was washed ashore near another village a few kilometers away. A young man found this baby covered with wet soil in her eyes, mouth and ears. He washed her and she came back to life! Eventually they found the mother. The mother who has lost everyone and everything is very thankful that she got her baby back. She named her Tsunami, but the villagers objected saying the name is a curse. The mother gave the baby into Andrew Prakasam hands and wanted him to name her. He thanked God for saving this dear life and called her Hannah, meaning God is Gracious. Un-nal in Tamil, which is also the name of his own daughter!
In the next village, due to the Caste Systems of India, the villagers who are of the lower caste are untouchables. They approached Andrew Prakasam as they had not received any help so far. The fishermen, who are of high caste, took all the aid that had come and chased them out of sight. They wanted to know if we were also going to reject them. We immediately delivered food supplies and other necessities to them. They feared that if the other fishermen found out that they had received help, they would come and fight with them and try to take away their things. So we had to bring them to a protected area and distribute the supplies.
The right side of this woman’s body is paralyzed by the huge waves which threw her mercilessly across the village.
This is a camp full of children. Their tragic stories are overwhelming.
A 7 year old little girl lost 2 brothers and one sister. The waves began to overtake her and threw her onto a beach far away from home. She got up crying looking for her parents. She fortunately found her mother but mourned that 2 of her dear brothers and one darling sister were taken away by the cruel waves. She said that she is not happy to live any longer and wanted to be joined with her dead brothers and sister.
This mother lost 3 children in just 5 minutes! However she is survived with 2 other daughters.
It was heartbreaking to hear stories from little children about how the Tsunami took away their family members and wept bitterly as they shared with Andrew Prakasam.
This 13 year old boy was playing cricket on the beach. His mother yelled a warning when the huge, dark wave came. He ran as fast as he could and climbed up a set of stairs of a house. His mother scrambled to find his 2 year old brother. He saw his mother and brother being swept away by the overpowering waves into the ocean. His aunt who was following him fell down on the stairs, broke her nose and could not get up. The swelling waves swept her away too.
This baby was born on the morning of 26th of December. He will never know the impact of Tsunami. Even though he lost his siblings, Share In Asia will provide all the care that he is going to need.
Many of these children have been taken under the care of Share in Asia for as long as they will need it. Parents can leave their children in our care until such time they are able to once again provide for their families. For those children who have lost a parent or even both parents, will be provided for, completely by us, if they wish.
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