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Thursday, 13 January, 2005

India: Tsunami Relief - A Social Movement in Progress!

Balaji Sampath, AID India Central Coordinator shares his experiences and provides a detailed report on the ongoing Tsunami Relief Activities of AID India and other partner organizations in Tamilnadu.


Venkatesh is a poor daily wage coolie labor from Chidambaram. Right from the start he has been helping with dead body removal, debris clearance and relief distribution in the villages around our Killai center.

Every 2-3 days he gets a call from home "Come back! We have not eaten for 2 days."

Venkatesh's daily earnings decides whether his family will eat that day or not. When he gets this call, Venkatesh rushes back home - to work, to earn and to feed his family.

Two days later he is back at Killai - working on the relief efforts!

There are many DYFI volunteers like Venkatesh working in Killai and the other six centers in Cuddalore and Nagai. Extremely poor and extremely motivated volunteers. They are the backbone of our relief efforts there. They are the ones who cannot write reports, the ones who cannot discuss big ideas for long term planning. But they are the ones who went in first into the empty villages to dig out and clear and cremate dead bodies, to clean up the slush in the houses and to provide relief supplies. I would like to take this opportunity to salute these silent selfless volunteers and acknowledge their critical role.

At our Nagapatinam center a large number of "software" volunteers from and Chennai landed up to help with the relief operations. At first, the local DYFI volunteers looked at them suspiciously "What can these well-dressed rich professionals do here in this village?" But they were in for a shock. The IT professionals promptly folded up their sleeves, put on gloves and boots and walked into the slush to lift and remove dead bodies. The local volunteers were first zapped. They had never seen software professionals doing this kind of manual labor! By the evening - at the end of a hard day's labor - a new human relationship had developed - volunteers from both groups were now great friends, sharing jokes and beedis!

Read More Details on AID India Relief Operations here

1 Comments Post a comment
Anonymous Anonymous said :

Great work AID! We should, however, be cautions not to favor a political movement too. We know that DYFI & SFI are helping us a great deal at the grass-roots level, but over time they might ask us to support/fund their political agendas - i.e. to enrich communist parties.

For example, we might be asked to stimulate Marx/Lenin ideology in our education relief programs.

This will greatly discredit our mission that we are a non-partisan NGO.

Thu Jan 13, 03:07:00 am IST