Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Dr.Shilpa Govardhan Reports From Nagapattinam

Dr.Shilpa, my friend, is volunteering in Nagapattinam and she has this to say about the situation:
OK, this may not be necessary, but I will mention anyway that the death and devastation that is on an awesome scale. Entire villages have been wiped out, without even a trace. So, the media has'nt really exaggerated on that account. But what it fails to do is take into account the sheer tenacity of life, and the relentless determination of the people themselves to get their lives back. If ever there was a genre of people who accept calamity, embrace it even, and then move on, they are these sea folk.
Their concerns are these: the generosity of their neighbors sustains them now, but what of later when the wave of benevolence dies down, and they become simply the forgotten victims of just another natural calamity? And they are a very proud people- the accept the charity only because they have to.
The only thing that they really want is their boats back. To go back to the sea which caused all their sorrow, and collect from her again what they have all their lives.(Their own words by the way- they have a very strong poetic streak in them.)
This is not a simple task, as it seems to be on the surface. Each catamaran (which is their simplest kind of boat) itself costs about 60,000, to say nothing of the larger ones which cost anywhere from 2, 00,000 to 10, 00,000 Indian Rupees. To add to this, the builders of the catamaran are a dying race, and they might possibly not be anyone left who could carry on the job. And each boat that was lost had about 3 to 4 nets in it which again costs about 30 to 40,000 Indian Rupees each.
The economic losses are huge; each family has lost in addition at least 50,000 in cash (They don't believe in banks. They store the money in their homes. And they are quite a financially secure race). Add to this their homes, schools, community halls, clothes, utensils and the amount is staggering. So what they really need now are funds. Donate to a reliable organization whatever you want to. Do not, for heaven’s sake, take it upon yourselves to come and donate to the people themselves. It not only fosters greed, it has led to chaos on an unbelievable scale. If you do want to come down yourself, then contact the village head.
The degree of organization here would put the biggest MNCs to shame. Each family has been given a card, colored according to their proximity to the shore. The head collects all relief material, and only when they have enough for all the people, they start distributing resources, using a checklist!
What would really be appreciated would be volunteers who can spare a week or two of their time, who are willing to work among them to see that they get their due, and to help them improve sanitation to prevent outbreaks. They are beautifully responsive to teaching- if only for a day or two. So, reinforcement is required, but they will tell you themselves what they require and how you may help. One just has to ask.
Volunteering need not be now. There are several NGOs that are planning an intervention of at least one year and they need all the man-power they can get-I know of one called Action Aid in Madras. There are definitely others.
Oh yes, and the government has to be congratulated on its swiftness and efficiency of action. They are most willing to follow suggestions too.

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3 Comments:

I believe in helping others but...dont we have terrible things happening right here in the states that should come first on the relief efforts. The same people that we are sending all that money to for help is good but I still see the picutres of them dancing in the streets and with joy for our great lose of life at ground zero with the over 3000 dead. These people hate us with a zeoul that we as a people dont truely understand. It should be apparent with Indonesias leader telling us to be out on or before the deadline they set for us in March. They only want the USA involved long enough to help restore their country. I also know that only 22 cents on the dollor get to the people that really need it. 

Posted by Bill

12:20 AM  

I am shanmugaraj from Nagapattinam, India, one of the victim of Tsunami Disaster. First we thanks to all the helping hands for the timely help in the unexpected disaster.

Now, Indian Central and State Government they are taking necessary step to make normal in the Tsunami affected areas.

Still we are in the fear.

Future? This is the big question in the fishermen community. We need long assistance to develop the fishing industry and also should develop Educational Institutions in Nagapattinam for this poor educated community for their bright future. Please help us to build a hope to the younger generation without see the dark light.

Any helping hands wants to meet affected people or give assistance please contact in the above email id or directly to the camps in the affected areas.



 

Posted by Shanmugaraj

3:05 PM  

If you ever go to a city named Iasi don't eat at Restaurante Iasi. Take this as my advice. They have the worst services available.

7:49 PM  

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