Tsunami and its Aftermath. . .
The Roll of AVVAI

Tsunami! A new word, which has found its way into Tamil Lexicon, but, at what cost? Tamil Nadu repeatedly ravaged by the failure in monsoon rain for three consecutive years was just sighing contentedly when disaster struck.

The unheard of and unbelievable Tsunami stuck coastal Tamil Nadu on 26th December 2004. The official death toll after 8 days records over 10,000 deaths. Nagapattinam district with a long coastline is the worst affected in Tamil Nadu. Over 7,000 deaths have been recorded in this district alone.

A Scene in Keechankuppam

The whole world was shocked to learn that Nagapattinam District was among the worst ravaged by a Tsunami on 26th December 2004. Overnight Nagapattinam became a world-renowned town, albeit for very sad reasons.
All the costal blocks have been ravaged. Over 2000 persons are reported missing. Nearly 100,000 people were lodged in 94 Relief Camps in schools and halls. They stay there in stupor and search for the missing loved ones with hope, which is fast dwindling.

Pilgrims to Veilankanni during Christmas, fishermen, beach combers, residents in choice plots near the sea shore all saw the immense power of sea and sea water on that day. In Nagapattinam district all 77 villages on the coast were affected. 34 villages were totally washed away.

Relief measures are being taken. They are never sufficient. The physical damage can be repaired in time and with money. But, the psychological disturbance that has been suffered by these people and the loss of their very livelihood poses a far greater problem.

A Body recovered in Nagore

A Fishing Boat one KM from the beach - Keechankuppam

EROSION 1.5 KM Inland-Keezhamoovarkarai

The survivors need counseling, vocational training, entrepreneurship development, Micro Credit, Marketing support et al.

The beach, a place for relaxation, meditation, peace, play and tranquility was suddenly inundated with dead bodies, not in their hundreds but, thousands. The story had appeared in the international media in detail.

Avvai Village Welfare Society was in the middle of it all. The Administrative Office of Avvai
is in the centre of the worst affected areas like Nagore, Nambiar Nagar, Akkaraipettai and Keechankuppam.

Our target was three pronged


Digging for bodies-Veilankanni

Digging for bodies-Nagore

Avvai Village Welfare Society started Rescue and Relief Work within minutes of the Tsunami disaster. Our staffs in Nagapattinam, Kollidam, Sirkali Keezhaiyur and Vedaranyam Blocks jumped into action

Our Partners


Child Centered Spaces

The greatest Post-Tsunami impact on the society is the effect of the tsunami on the children. The children who have seen the tidal wave and have escaped still have nightmares. Those who have lost their parents, brothers or sisters have become total introverts. Though schools have reopened the children who attend schools are unable to concentrate on their studies. Thus, the future leaders and the ones to forget and come up in life need to come out of the Tsunami Trauma. The Child Centred Spaces aims to achieve exactly this. The children will have a space to assemble, to play, to read, to indulge in childish pranks and games, solve puzzles and generally forget their bitter experience and become normal citizens. The CCS will be the first step towards the children attaining normalcy.


On 26th in the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami our staff started working in extending help to the victims and helping the administration in the rescue work in all the coastal blocks. Under the guidance of Mr. Krishnakumar, Project Director, who was available on the spot, the actual rescue work was done by Mr. Karuppanan, Mr. Venkatesan, Mr. Pathy and Ms. Senthil Kumari. Many persons were taken to the nearest hospitals and many more were taken to the Relief Camps. People were given help in identifying their loved ones and Avvai started doing linkage work immediately.

More than 200 affected people were taken to our office and other facilities to give them a place to stay. We managed to help them with food to some extent. But, on that crucial day Nagapattinam was devoid of food and eatables.

Avvai helped in the identification of the dead. We are running a Short Stay Home for Women and children in Nagapattinam, which was also inundated. Our staff did an excellent job in shifting all the inmates safely to our campus in Kil Velur. We took care of all the women, Senior Citizens and children and babies under our care. The task was gargantuan and the facilities were lacking. But, we could accomplish things. Being in the local area for the past 30 years and having associated with the people all along Avvai was a welcome sign to many of the sufferers.

Relief camp in Nagore

Searchine for Treasures?


In addition to extending all possible assistance to the Government efforts, Avvai is also networking with other NGOs and other volunteers who are coordinating the relief work. Avvai is giving a special TRAUMA COUNSELING TRAINING to 175 volunteers. 150 of these Counselors will be Peer Counselors, persons who have seen and suffered and persons who have lost their loved ones and their possessions. These counselors will go to all villages and camps to extend counseling to the survivors to help them come out of the Trauma of seeing and suffering from the Tsunami and losing their loved ones and possessions. Avvai has set up 10 Community Kitchens in 10 affected villages to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner to 6000 people. In addition to this a Core Network of Local NGOs has been spearheaded by Avvai to run 10 more Community Kitchens and undertake Relief Work.

Distribution of Care-Relief Package

AVVAI-GOAL community kitchen-Manian Theevu

Relief packages containing rice, dal, bedding, dresses and other essentials are passed on to the needy as soon as we receive them. We have distributed over 4,000 Relief Packages so far and we estimate that we will be distributing around 30,000 packages to the survivors. We have also channelized the proper distribution of similar packages by out of station agencies and other NGOs.

The Relief Camps set up by the government provide the people with meals. But, milk for the babies is not being provided. avvai is supplying milk to a few camps. In addition we have also supplied soap, oil, baby napkins and a few other essentials to the people in these camps. Children have been given biscuit packets. Avvai has also got under way a Cleaning Campaign which aims at cleaning the waysides and help in segregating the relief materials at the government godowns. When the people refused old dresses, Avvai found a dealer, disposed of the waste dresses for Rs. 30000 and donated the amount to the District Collector’s Tsunami Fund.

Though 4 full weeks have passed and the people are slowly coming out of their shock, Avvai feels that Community Kitchens should go on for a short while more. Though the survivors have been supplied with Relief Packages by the government and other agencies, they have practical difficulties in cooking. The temporary shelters are confined places where the fisher folk, who enjoy open places more, are physically and mentally disinclined to cook. The floor is still wet and the people are yet to come out of the trauma. So, Avvai continues to run the kitchens. To add to their woes rumors come up daily predicting another Tsunami mentioning date and time. So, Avvai provides them with meals with support from Goal- Ireland.

AVVAI-GOAL community kitchen-Manian Theevu

AVVAI-GOAL community kitchen-Manian


Avvai is formulating plans for the rehabilitation of the victims. The government is taking care of major needs like trawlers, boats and nets. Avvai can and is planning to contribute is a substantial way, with the support of others.

Relief is just a minuscule part.
Rehabilitation is more important.

Some happy moments in Avvai CCS Akkaraipatti

Avvai has made arrangements to accommodate ALL women and children who have been victims of this disaster. Senior citizens who have lost their livelihood are being accommodated in our Old Age Home. Avvai is planning to open 3 more Short Stay Home for Women in Distress and expand our accommodating capacity for babies, children and elders.

A survey to pinpoint the actual victims of this disaster is under way. The leaders and members of over 2000 Women SHGs and Federations are totally involved in our efforts to extend succor to the victims.

Medical Camps, Awareness Generation Camps, providing temporary shelter to all sufferers are some of the measure being launched by Avvai in the aftermath of the Tsunami.


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