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Face to face with life once again

Tsunami Auroville Beach Community Team Report

Ashatit on Monday morningWithin hours after the tsunami struck, a group of Aurovilians met to discuss how to cope with the emergency. To form a group to respond to the needs of those in Auroville's nine beach communities, five people were suggested; one of them would phone the proposed Aurovilians to see if they would agree to come and help. For some of them, the phone call was the first they had heard of the disaster, yet no one declined, not even someone called from a hard-won retirement. And thus was formed the Auroville Beach Community team, comprised of 5 Aurovilians experienced in housing and construction. The team was characterized, says Ashatit, by competence, effectiveness, dedication and commitment. Among its members, there was always harmony, respect and a fraternal attitude toward one another. There was a complete delegation of responsibility. Decisions were made only in meetings, and by consensus. Proposals brought to the meetings were by and large accepted. There was never any question of personal gain. Everything was transparent, from beginning to end.

Three steps were experienced in the work, which was an enriching experience:

•  The tragedy happened and, in the first days, everyone was stopped by the shock. There were no recriminations, no claims, no regrets, and no complaints. Only shock, that left minds and hearts open, so that those giving and those receiving were one and the same. In these first 7 to 10 days, everybody helped. So much work was accomplished.

•  When people started to recover from the shock, there was confusion, claim, fear - a great deal of fear - and dissatisfaction. Life had been broken, and people could not deal with it. They wanted to rebuild their lives as they had been and, not having the power to do so, they started to complain against the very people who were there, helping them. This true egoistic attitude of ingratitude leads to confusion, while killing possibilities of manifestation; there is an inability to be supple, to accept and to flow with the experience, and thus move from the ‘slap' to the ‘caress'. One continues to experience the ‘slap' and cannot move on.

How to help people over the trauma? By giving them the capacity and power to be capable once more of walking hand in hand with life, as they did before the tragedy. This was the real work.

•  And the people started to engage life face to face once again. Then they really know what they need to continue on their journey. They are calm, kind, compassionate, grateful. There is a sincerity. People ask clearly, simply, with awareness. There is a clear commitment to going forward. They can communicate what they need and why. Then people tell you there's a possibility to make a step forward, that along with material possessions old obstacles were washed away, things from the past and, grateful, they can now make a new beginning.

Yona, a young man who grew up in Auroville, is a perfect example of someone who has come all the way to the caress. He had lost a great deal in the tsunami, including all his photography material. He didn't want it all to be replaced. “What I need will come,” he simply said. “I am in another process now and I don't need what I had before. I need this today.”

That's how the fences and gates to the beach looked like on the 27th Dec.. Today, they are rebuilt, but still without a protective vegetation, that will take more time.

Monday morning it was almost everywhere them same picture, friends and volunteers came to help...

Today the houses are repaired, the debris removed and even Anna smiles again. There is still a lot to do in ecological restoration, but that will take more time...

Some flowers survived Anna smiling Traces of loss are still there...

We would like to take the opportunity of this action report to thank all the donors for their generosity and invaluable support. Thanks to them we have been able to bring back all those who have suffered from the tsunami back on their feet and make them capable to rebuild their life. We would like also to thanks all the Aurovilians who have put so much energy and so much of themselves in this operation.