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
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.
Scene in Keechankuppam
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
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.
Body recovered in Nagore
Fishing Boat one KM from the beach - Keechankuppam |
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
Our target was three pronged
for bodies-Veilankanni |
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
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
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
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.
camp in Nagore |
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.
of Care-Relief Package |
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
Collectors 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-
community kitchen-Manian Theevu |
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.
is just a minuscule part.
Rehabilitation is more important.
happy moments in Avvai CCS Akkaraipatti
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.
AND REVIVAL OF
OLD PEACE AND HARMONY