Tsunami-Affected Communities Need Your Help!Friends, as the year draws to a close and while people in other parts of the country are looking forward to a weekend of festivities, thousands in Andaman & Nicobar, Tamilnadu, Pondicherry, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are staring into a bleak future. The killer tsunami – giant tidal waves unleashed by an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean – that struck the South Indian coast on 26 December has left a trail of death and destruction in its wake. Thousands have died, many more have lost their loved ones, their homes and their hopes.
Reports and assessments of the exact damage are still coming in. Preliminary reports from local sources suggest that at least 15,000 people have lost their lives, of whom one third are likely to be children. Many thousands more are missing. The lives and livelihoods of at least 300,000 families have been affected.
The damage is the worst in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Tamilnadu. Kerala, Pondicherry and Andhra Pradesh have also been affected. In all these States, it is the fishing communities that have been hardest hit. Already struggling with poverty and an uncertain livelihood, they now find themselves completely destitute. Their dwellings are destroyed, their boats, nets and livelihoods lost, their families devastated.
A large number of volunteers from local social action groups, community organisations and Government agencies are working to provide immediate relief to the affected communities. People from other parts of the affected States have rallied in support and have mobilised to provide food, medicines and shelter materials to those in need. In Delhi, a consortium of concerned organisations and individuals has come together to form the Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee to coordinate assistance and support to local organisations involved in the relief efforts.
While immediate necessities are being met from local sources, the greater need is for economic rehabilitation and restoration of livelihoods. The affected communities do not want to beg for aid – they are independent fisher-people who are proud of their skills and confident of their abilities to rebuild their lives. The money that we in Delhi are able to raise will be used to support affected families in replacing the boats, nets and other productive assets which they have lost, and which will enable them to regain their livelihoods.
Our priorities for support will be the worst affected villages and hamlets in Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu. We will be channelling support through local organisations who are working directly with affected communities for rehabilitation and restoration of livelihoods.
We appeal to you to contribute generously to the Tsunami Relief Fund and help the affected communities to rebuild their lives and live with dignity.
Cheques should be made out to “Delhi Tsunami Relief Fund”. Cheques and cash donations can be sent to: Indian Social Institute, 10, Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, NEW DELHI 110 003.
All India Students’ Federation