An anniversary of tsunami? What to say? What to celebrate?
The day the sea took away our past and washed in a new life.
December 26 th, 2004 – the fishing boats were shattered.
By December 2005, so many new boats were replaced, the fishermen had more than before!
(Note: Auroville did not replace boats, advised by the South India Federation of Fishermen's Societies, we did not add to the glut of boats which would be ecologically and economically disastrous.)
In 2004 the fishing looked bleak, now in 2005 fishermen mend their nets under “community sheds” built by Auroville.
Tsunami washed away the children's school books – that was one of the first things we replaced. This attention to children continued – setting up night schools, rebuilding day care centres, arranging a talent show, taking them on trips. And for the older ones giving computer education to the boys and girls, and extending educational loans for those who want to go on in education.
Houses were washed away, and people had to live in relatives' homes or in makeshift tents.
By 2005, we'd built a new palm-leaf house for this old lady -- and about 160 more families.
Before tsunami fisherwomen were pretty much confined to house and fish work – tsunami rehabilitation brought in training in stitching and getting organised in “Self-Help-Groups to take up income generation projects. The “Tsunamika” project grew from an immediate relief project into a growing income generation project employing 200 women and a prize-winning radical example of “gift economy”.
Before tsunami, the fishermen were an isolated community in the social fabric, a year later they can be heard sometimes to say that the tsunami brought them into relation with other groups, and they are better off than before.
Before tsunami there was little collaboration among NGOs between NGOs and government. Appointed by the District Collector, Auroville has led the way in NGO coordination, from calling monthly meetings to negotiating with the many NGOs organising women to cooperate in offering women's empowerment programmes. “Knowledge Centre” offers Auroville's technologies to the entire NGO community through the web.
Now Government is more forthcoming and cooperation with NGOs, having found cooperation and capacity to work for common goals.
At 9.00 in the morning on 26 th December 2004, Auroville responded with the immediacy of love to the need of the distressed people -- out of this response to tsunami has grown a team of more than 25 Aurovilians committed to go on bringing the benefits of Auroville's technologies and skills to their village neighbours. Human Unity at our Doorstep!