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Wednesday, 5 January, 2005

Akaaripettai , Nagapattinam and Velankani - Blog Reader Reports

-- From a blog reader--

I visited Nagapattinam and Velankanni, tsunami affected areas on the coast of Tamil Nadu, India. I spoke to survivors and local people who were there when the tsunami struck, and relief workers too.

I amazed and humbled by the helping nature and generosity of the survivors. They working together with relief volunteers.

I have put up the story and pictures at:

6 Comments Post a Comment
Anonymous Anonymous said :

From: prashanth (Bangalore, India)
Date: Wednesday, 12.08 PM

Everyone's trying to do their bit for the tsunami earthquake victims. Good. But, Is the situation REALLY as grim as it sounds on TV, RADIO, and NEWSPAPER???

My Dad's friend (named Krishnappa, from Bangalore) decided to donate 5,00,000 rupees for the tsunami victims. (He's quite well off. that's a different thing, though.)

But he was worried that the money might reach the wrong hands. So, he decided to go to Nagapattinam (the worst affected part in Tamilnadu) himself and distribute the money and food to the Poor and adopt 50 children. We thought it was a good idea.

Along with the money he took about 1000 Blankets, 1000 NEW clothes (he has his own garment factory), 500 kgs of Rice and 1000 packets of Biscuit to be distributed to the earthquake survivors.

Here's what he said to me, when he came back after 4 days...


The media have hyped the whole thing. It is true that a large number of people have died due to Tsunami. But, 95% of them were all poor people (below poverty line) who were living along the ocean's belt. The tidal waved have indeed wiped off everything they own including their children, houses and their boats. There are no reall tsunami survivors (i'm talking about poor people below poverty line) who are in need of food, clothes and money. (sounds shocking?)

The percentage of poor people (below poverty line) who have survived the tsunami wrath is about 2-4%. (the relief work under taken by the state goverment seems enough for them. most of the surviving children have been adopted by the state government already).

I had read that the loss due to Tsunami is about 400~500 crores. But you must understand that that the loss of properties belonging to the poor people were just a few crores. (since most of them were living in thatched huts... their only property was a boat, a few thousand rupees and a little gold at the maximum). The 400-500 crore loss is the TRADE loss (example, shipping industry.) which belongs to the well-off people again. (it shouldnt make a big difference to them.)

There are about 7 - 8 lorry loads of old clothes lying in Nagapattinum alone with no takers. Likewise there are no takers for the Tons and Tons of wheat that has been sent from allover India. (their staple food is rice).

The tsunami relief money which has been sent from all over is reaching the wrong hands. (a few youths who have come from other parts of tamil nadu are collecting the booty posing as relative(S) of the tsunami victims)

All the rich people including the upper and lower middle-class, have survived and their lives are running in an absolutely normal way, quite the way it was before. The businesses are normal too. The shops, the hotels, the resorts, the fun-parks, the museums, the hotels, schools and colleges, everything everything are running normally.

I had decided to stay with the tsunami survivors in a hut at least for one day. But, after seeing the REAL situation there... i went and stayed in a 5-star hotel. I distributed the Rice which i had taken to some of the REAL survivors and while coming back i distributed all the clothes, blankets, biscuits to poor people in other parts of Tamil nadu and came back to Bangalore.

I think i made a mistake by not celebrating New Year this time. I'm planning to celebrate it tomorrow with my friends.

Here's my advice. If you really want to help people, send a few bags of Rice. Dont send your old clothes, blankets, biscuits or Wheat. There are no takers. There are no poor survivors (and even if they are the state government has already taken care of them). Dont send CASH to unknown Non-governmental organisations. Most of your money wont reach the needy.

..and lastly go celebrate new year if you havent.


I had set-up http://tsunami-relief.netfirms.com to collect funds for the victims. I have decided to take it off. I'll use the money collected so far to buy some bags of rice and send it Tamil nadu.

If you want to send cash, send it to some responsible people like...

Prime minister's relief fund.If you are sending money from outside india, use
American Red Cross (Disaster Relief) Via Amazon.comI hope more and more people read and understand this.

Wed Jan 05, 12:20:00 PM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

What a refreshing change to see someone publish an account that is objectively observational. I appreciate that there is a lot going wrong with getting the right aid to the right people, but it lifted my heart that the people responded the way they did to Caraf.

With so many political and financial stories abounding to deflect our attention away from this humanitarian tragedy, why not read this account as a source of reflection not only on this disaster, but also on the continuing tragedies that affect the world with AIDS, famine, civil strife, etc. - tens of thousands of people (many of them children) are dying daily... allow this most visible of tragedies to help you reflect as you sit in your cozy chair in your heated house, with all your comforts and your health... the next move is yours.

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wed Jan 05, 07:32:00 PM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

I'm working for a magazine from Taiwan, covering the tsunamis in South India. I want to focus on the positive side of the tragedy, i.e. how people are fighting to get their lives back. I think you may be able to put me in touch with people not affliated with the big aid agencies in the world, but more local ones, which I can feature. My magazine is linked to one of the largest aid organizations run by Chinese in the world. Get in contact ASAP at wubin@last-harbour.com.

Wed Jan 05, 08:06:00 PM IST  
Blogger Koncerned_One said :

Your friend visited one village/town and has come to the conclusion that the whole region is the same ??? Still not the time to celebrate . well a friend of mine , a doctor has gone to the same region to survey in and around nagapatinam . What he saw was medical aid , not reaching many of the affected areas . We might have loads of other supplies waiting in nagapatinam , but thats because of lack of proper co ordination in sending the relief . people just can't get up and start sending supplies indiscriminately to affected regions without having any idea whats required . thats y we have NGO's . most have done this sort of work before during bhuj and orissa floods . If ur friend wasnt so trusting he could have gone along with an NGO and bought supplies with the cash he had .

NDTV reported that there was no co-ordination in chennai and tamil nadu , based on the fact that a train with supplies from delhi wasnt picked up in chennai . If the people in delhi didnt bother to find out what was needed and just simply sent supplies , How can one say the whole co ordination in this region is non - existant . DONT look at the media at all then , just go to your nearest NGO who has a branch in the affected region and find out what they need and help them out that way . I agree casteism still exists and supplies might be affected because of this in some region , but the majority of the regions have well running adequate camps set up by govt/NGO and those are never shown on TV , but you can see and read their work in sites like this very one . Indian MEDIA has seriously failed in reporting the relief operations . NDTV has only now started posting helplines and other important stuff after an outcry in their message boards and email to stop showing only body counts and critisizing relief efforts , instead show real relief work and how they can help getting information about requirements in effected area out to the world .

Your uncle might not have gotten what he expected , but reality is there are people affected by the disaster and there is a possibility of another disaster in the form of an epidemic , which might take more lives . and there are people trying their best to stop such a health hazard from ever happening . Lets encourage the brave souls who are trying to save us all from another possible disaster . Many questioned and were angry at not getting a proper warning before the tsunami , and said lives could have been saved . Well now we have a clear warning of a possible epidemic and people are giving their heart , mind and soul to try to stop it . these are not only doctors and medical practitioners, army/navy men/women , but also the countless volunteers , teaching the people of the affected regions , basics of clean leaving and how to rebuild their lives , and helping them cope with the psychological trauma faced by numerous adults and children there . Its a long process to recover from the disaster and our job isnt finished once we donate and volunteer . We have got to participate and be a part of the rebuilding effort no matter how much time it take . this not only ensures we will be able to survive this disaster , but any disaster in the future too . one thing i have seen happen after this disaster is the nation coming together like never before . more than that , the whole world coming together . Let's hope this unity holds forever .

i think we can start celebrating once the children affected by this start leading a normal life and are able to celebrate their life on their own . Till then , still a long journey to rebuild lives and livelihood ahead .

Wed Jan 05, 09:34:00 PM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

I was deeply touched by your diary and photos. Thank you!
I now have HOPE after viewing your diary and photos that the Peace I have been praying for is with the people affected by the tsunami.
May God Bless their souls and maybe this will be the turning point to a more peaceful world.

Thu Jan 06, 01:28:00 AM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

I am shocked, disgusted and very disturbed by the nature of the comment posted by prashanth. I have just now got back from nagapattinam and have seen the havoc the tsunami has caused, and i've talked to survivors. The fishermen in akkarapettai (one of the most damaged villages) may have been very wealthy -- but right now, they have nothing to call their own. most of them have lost family members to the waves -- ALL of them have lost homes and property and means of livelihood. Just because they lived ABOVE the poverty line does not make their lives any less significant. A life lost is a life lost. And, frankly, this is one of the cases where the dead are the fortunate ones. Imagine the others -- little children without parents, mothers who have lost children, aged men and women without ANY support left -- trying to carry on living. AND HE THINKS IT'S TIME TO CELEBRATE? for sheer insensitivity, i guess only the TV channels can come close to prashanth.
-- Brinda (brinda.vasudevan@gmail.com)

Fri Jan 07, 01:45:00 PM IST