Friday, December 31, 2004

Project Update :: Urur Kuppam (Lakshmi)

Dear all,

Wish you all a happy and productive New Year.

It is sad that we have to be managing a natural disaster and supporting the people who have lost so much in this disaster. Yet we could learn to work in coordination and reach out together so that there is support to all needy and support reaches all affected peoples.

To this end Rajaraman has been talking to the AID, Bhoomika group and there is a meeting Jan 2, morning which he will be attending to get as much info and also provide to the coordination efforts.

Jebadurai was contacted and he has been able to get the required amounts of money from the Asha chennai account on time. Jeba and Satyapriya have been explained what we are doing and what we plan using the money for.

We are coordinating with a number of local NGOs, individuals to ensure that we get materials collected organized.

Sumitra Gautama is coordinating the putting together clothes, vessels and medicines in a very big way. She can be reached through me at She makes arrangements for specific requirements in very reasonable time. Her house is very conveniently located for collection.

Now to the happenings at our end yesterday-

Namita and I got info about Siddamma’s requirements from different sources. We however were able to piece things together and by the evening 4pm have arranged for 500 family sets of dry ration for Siddamma. Each set is as follows 7 Kg rice, 2kg dal, 1kg salt, 1kg tamarind, 250g chilli powder. This is an estimate that an average family of 3 adults and 2 children can do with in a week. (We will keep checking this out). The total cost of this about Rs 88500. We have got temporary loan money arranged which we can return when money comes from the approved chapter- this case Sanjeev Ranganathan is our US contact.

Rajaram, Sundaram and I visited the Sastrinagar Shelter where the number of homeless tenants from Urur Kuppam are put up. The numbers have increased to 185 from 20 on 29th when this Chennai Corporation shelter was opened. We are having IIT volunteers survey and computerize the data. Data from our joint survey at Urur Kuppam has been computerized and is being cross checked right now. We hope to be able to hand over the survey results to the Theosophical Order of Service and mail to our Asha email groups as well with our understanding and suggestions, as well.

We have been successful in mobilizing medicine for AID as per their requirements through Sairam and Raji Seattle volunteers coordinating the effort. They would have medicines to pick their needs from very soon.

We are trying to locate govt. support through some govt. officials. We seem to have been successful with one area but we will wait to see things more concrete evidence before we make things more public.

We have coordinated with Asha India as well about routing of funds and found a solution for immediate requirements this week and then for afterwards.

We have helped get the documentation ready and supplied data and photographs for a corporate presentation about TOS and an appeal for funds from abroad.

More later: Wishing all our efforts the best.

Working in good faith today for a better tomorrow.


Onsite Update :: from Siddhamma in Pazhaverkadu

31 Dec 04
Dear Friends,

Here is the info I got from Siddhamma today.

Lakshmi got in touch with Siddhamma. Lakshmi and Namita will travel with Siddhamma with food to Pazhaverkadu (around Pulligat lake). [Pls look at yesterday's update for info on status of affected areas.]

She mentioned that Asha Chennai has been able to kick in efforts extremely quickly. Lakshmi has also added additional items to the packet dal+red chili power+salt. The packet contains 1kg ricex7 days/per family.

Q: Why is the amt 1kg/family per day is very different from 5kg/day that was requested.
A: This is the relief that is provided in Chennai and this is what they have right now. The size of the family and the eating habits are quite different since ppl are used to a lot of physical work. Namita and Lakshmi will be travelling with me tomorrow and they should be able to talk to the ppl directly and get an idea of the requirements.

Q: Do you have a info of how many ppl in each family, etc?
A: Yes we have a complete survey. My comuputer disk has been infected. I will mail you the info as soon as it's fixed.

They have worked on projects to rescue bonded laborers and 20 rescued volunteers will be there tomorrow to help with the distribution to each family. Villages from Pettai, Sengaiamna Nagar, Rajaratna Nagar & Kolathumadu have been moved from Punnari City to Rajaratna Nagar & Kolathumadu. They are staying in their homes and are starting to make some temporary acco here. We will know more tomorrow after Siddamma's visit there.


Pitchavaram (Cuddalore): Discussion with Govt. There local govt officials have ignored Kalaingar Nagar (Karunanidhi Nagar). This is a village of almost 150 families. After substantial discussions with the officials they said that they were not aware of the village in their district. It appears the real reason is the actual name of the village (which really isn't the results fault). The eventually agreed to provide some support to them and moved them to a Govt school. However, we just heard from them that they have not received any food for the whole day.

We have contacted the district Cuddalore collector, they had heard of our work with the bonded laborers and has promised to take care of it tomorrow.

Killa Panchayat president said that the Govt wanted to get in touch with us and wanted us and the ppl to give money to the Project Office to reconstruct. However, when we spoke to the PO they said they want to construct plastic sheds for 10 families each. These would be made
of plastic and would cost Rs 380,000 each in an area much further than their original villages.

The village heads of Killanadu said the they will not move in because it will get too hot in a couple of months in summer in the shed and they don't want to be split apart in a different area when they can do with the moral support from one another.

Chinnavoyal will work here with the ppls support. Killai village has come forward to provide their huts and will help the other communities. These ppl have themselves lost over 40 ppl, but are coming fwd to help their community. These are three village Kannaginagar (10 families), Chinnavoyal (50 families), Pillainedu (85 families). They think they can build a hut for under Rs. 3000. They think they can manage with 50 kg rice and share it.

We then also understood some of the reasons for this relief effort. There are two groups around Killai one are the landlords who do prawn farming. They create small ponds to grow prawns. This, however, makes the land too alkaline and difficult to grow anything. The three
villages mentioned have been resisting having their lands bought over by the prawn owners.

The sheds are being proposed in the area that is owned by the prawn farm owners and the sheds will be owned by the landlords and not by the ppl themselves.

There is no trust in the govt officials. They are already made it very difficult to get relief. They need to be paid Rs. 10,000 as bribe to get the 1 lakh for the families they lost. They need need to travel to Cuddalore city and then they receive the checks with photographs from
the politicians there. Many ppl are just too devastated to go anywhere.

Q: Are there specific cases you can tell me that we can specifically take up with the govt?
A: I will send you the case studies. We will also take this up.

In Pillainedu still only 40 bodies have been recovered. The youth have put together some funds and bought a diesel boat and are out in the waters morning to evening looking for the missing 10 bodies. The govt has still not taken the responsibility to find the missing ppl.

We have repeatedly brought this up. But, the govt is just not taking this seriously.

Siddamma said she would be working with the people so they can be on their land instead of having to move out. They will also trace out the land and see how many familes can be accommodated. She will also work with other villages which have not been effected by the tsunami to get rice. The youth will get back to her tomorrow with what is required for the children who need to prepare for their exams.

Onsite Update :: from Asha Chennai

Hi Folks,

I will send out more details later. Just wanted to let you know that Lakshmi and Namita are working with Siddhamma and will be taking supplies with them in the morning to Pazhaverkadu. The requirements for this area came to Rs. 85,000.


Project Update :: SEED (Vignesh)

I spoke with SEED and later with Prof Dilip. As you must have already found out from Dilip, SEED is unaffected.

I will be meeting with the Anawim folks and SEED folks on the 9th. I will keep you posted on what they need/can do.


Project Update :: Bharat Vidyalayam (Madhav)


I talked to Selvamani Palaniappan, one of the founders of Bharat Vidyalayam, a project supported by Asha Stanford. This project has not been affected by theTsunami. They are more than 300 km inland.

The project folk are not involved in any relief efforts, but Selvamani Palaniappan, one of the founders, who lives in Dallas, is working with some personal friends inChennai on relief efforts. He is collecting funds and is interested in supporting Asha's efforts.


Project Update :: Seva Chakkara Samajam (Suma)

I just spoke to the Founder of Seva Chakkara Samajam, Mr.Velayudham who are helping with R & R.

They are helping/ want to help the following affected areas :-

*** Kalpakam (? didn't catch if this is an area as well), Ayodya Kuppam, Ourur Kuppam, Olcot and Adayar.

*** With Plastic Kodums (ie. pots/buckets) for water, medicines, payi (mats I think), rice, temporary stretchers.

He mentioned that last time when they went to Olcot and gave them coffee, biscuits .... those folks (survivors) over there hadn't had anything for almost 2 days and were so glad to receive a small cup of coffee :((

I also asked him if Seva Chakkara was taking any kids who were orphaned due to this disaster and he mentioned not at this point since the Govt is trying to help out but if they do see a need for any they will be taking them in.

All the kids at Seva Chakkara Samajam are drinking boiled water and taking precautions as well.


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Project Update :: Urur Kuppam (Lakshmi)

Dear All,

  1. Started school at 9am with 120 of the 750 attending school. Namita and the IIT volunteers started the survey of the affected children around 10.30 am. Anil if IIT started computerizing earlier data as also data as it was being collected.
  2. Around 11.30 am the people of the Urur Kuppam came rushing into school as the Television streamers put people on alert on a possible Tsunami in about an hour. We handed over the younger children in the school to their parents and the older children helped in the relief work.
  3. The people have stayed overnight, as there were alerts on possible Tsunami after nightfall. Our efforts to getting back to normalcy took a small set back.
  4. To start with, we have got the details of 20 families of tenants, 19 in the Urur Kuppam and one from the Odaikuppam futher down the beach for rehab. We have asked them to look for accommodation and we would start our support on the Project Support –a – family SAF
  5. Seattle volunteer Sairam is right into the relief work in the area of medical needs. Phoenix volunteer Muralidhar Mukund is pitching in with his energy. More people are coming in.
  6. For Nemilikuppam and new Nemili kuppam 131+62 families (Sandhya Sunder) we have been able to organize dry ration of support for I week. This will be\r\n delivered on Monday as per our plan.
  7. We have been requested for support from “ Reach Out” at Kalakshetra colony for clothes and we have been able to help.
  8. Sumitra Gautama of The School KFI is coordinating a huge collecting, sorting and distribution network from her residence. She has a very large network of NGO contacts in different parts of the city and state. Yesterday 2 trucks with clothes and some utensils and some medicines have gone to a relief center in Nagapattinam. School children and young people are helping in this sorting effort for almost 12 hours of the day. This morning’s agenda is the finalization of the Urur Kuppam family lists- 200 odd families to remove duplication and ensure all the huts in the map have been covered. The focus is to get all the details in order so work can start full swing. Volunteers from IIT Madras are available for support for the\r\none to one activities and for data collection.
  9. For Nemilikuppam and new Nemili kuppam 131+62 families (Sandhya Sunder) we have been able to organize dry ration of support for I week. This will be delivered on Monday as per our plan.
  10. We have been requested for support from “ Reach Out” at Kalakshetra colony for clothes and we have been able to help.
  11. Sumitra Gautama of The School KFI is coordinating a huge collecting, sorting and distribution network from her residence. She has a very large network of NGO contacts in different parts of the city and state. Yesterday 2 trucks with clothes and some utensils and some medicines have gone to a relief center in Nagapattinam. School children and young people are helping in this sorting effort for almost 12 hours of the day.

This morning’s agenda is the finalization of the Urur Kuppam family lists- 200 odd families to remove duplication and ensure all the huts in the map have been covered. The focus is to get all the details in order so work can start full swing. Volunteers from IIT Madras are available for support for the one to one activities and for data collection


Project Update :: Project Vision (Srikanth)

I have contacted Smt. Padmavathi, India contact person for Project Vision.

The school is fine. Tsunami didn't affect it at all even tough the school is in Visakhapatnam which is a coastal place. Being to very north and almost 2000 km from the epi-center of Tsunami, the city as such is very less/not affected.

Srikanth - Asha Toledo
Asha Contact-Project Vision

Project Update :: Irula - Bharathi Trust (Sanjeev)

Dear Friends,

I have been able to speak to Siddhamma who has given me an idea of the extent of damage to the Irula fishermen tribes due to the Tsunami inTiruvallur and Pitchavaram (in Cuddalore).

Siddhamma is an Asha fellow and the coordinator of Bharathi Trust.

The primary work has been with the Irula tribes.

1) Tiruvallur Pazhaverkadu (around Pulligat lake)

Near the lake there are 30 fishermen villages. 16-20 of these villages have been affected.

This include 2 Irula villages which were directly on the shore.
a) Pettai - 55 families. No loss of life, the village has beencompletely washed out. Houses, boats, all belongings.
b) Sengaiamna Nagar - 60 familes, 2 people died. lost all property

Two other villages which were on the other side of the lake were less hit:
a) Rajaratna Nagar (Kallu Kadu Medu) - 40 fishermen families, did not loosehouses or lives. But have lost fishing boats and nets.
b) Kolathumadu - 300 families (Irulas) Lost all fishing boats and nets.

Present status:
Govt has taken responsibility so far everyone has been provided reliefin Punnari City in 8 Kalyana Mandapams (Marriage Halls). But, now they want the people to go back to their villages and jobs. Supposed to go back today, but due to the warning of a relash the govt let them stay for one more day.

The present state is quite unsanitary since over 1000 ppl are put up in one building. There was even a 3 day baby who had flies all over her face.

Cholera is common in this area. There is no drinking ground water and they need to get water from the Punnari area.

Immediate relief:
The people are too shocked and can't go to work. They also do not have boats and nets. They don't need immediate rehab since it'sunlikely they will be in any state to work in the next couple of weeks. Hoping to get rehab from govt since the boats are quite expensive. They want to get through the next 15 days and need rice to survive.

Some info on Govt rehab:
The ppl need to provide proof and documents to claim something. Even for people who died. These ppl have have lost everything. They don't have bills to prove that they owned Catamarans (boats) and nets.This is going to take time. We have to talk to the govt to get this. If this doesn't work it may be very tough. The families of 2 people who died got relief from govt yesterday. Check of 1 lakh for each family. They had to pay bank charges/service charge of the order of Rs.3,500. Govt plan to give Rs. 2000 per house if they are found eligible. Will have to work with the govt to help them understand the situation.It has been an effort talking to the govt officers - all fishermen all around the coast have lost their nets. These can, however, be produced by organizing the fisherwomen together. This would really help and be cheap if the govt can just give the initial support. But, this doesn't fall in the documents that the govt officials are supposed to give relief to. Now there is a scheme to give loan to purchase a boat. These ppl have lost everything how can they possibly pay back a loan.

Estimates on the immediate requirements:
Kolathumadu = 5 kg rice/day/family x 5 days x 300 families = 7500 kg rice.
Rajaratna = 5 kg rice/day/family x 5 days x 40 families = 1000 kg rice.

Everyone in Pettai and Sengaiamna Nagar will have to stay at Kolathumaduand Rajaratna Nagar. Again for them:
Pettai = 5 kg rice/day/family x 5 days x 55 families = 1375 kg rice
Sengaiamna = 5 kg rice/day/family x 5 days x 60 families = 1500 kg rice

The quote for rice she has is Rs.15/kg. This works out to a total of 1.7 lakhs that would be required for immediate relief. I spoke to her of the possibility of one of the orgs in Chennai sending the rice which may be faster and she welcomed any coordination that we can do. They are located 60 km from Chennai. I spoke to her of the concern of water being a big problem and she said that they need to get that from around here and there may be other issues, but we are not going to know that till we go there tomorrow. I think I murmured something about this not being a good idea to which she said where else will we go?

2) Pitchavaram - Cuddalore, next to Chidambaram (23 km)

Pango is planted here (it's a plant that is supposed to protect soil-erosion). On one side is the forest and on the other side is the shore.

The general area is called Killai and is the fishermen area. We visited this area becase we have been working with them as a part of the Unorganized Workers Union.

This area is closer to the main road but people have lost both property and lives.

a) Pillainedu - Village - 85 fishermen familes. washed out. 40 ppl killed, 10 not traced even as yet. Interior village (not on main road).

One big problem here has been that the Govt has not taken responsibilities of tracing bodies. Met all the families who lost so many ppl. The govt has not registered any survey yet and this is needed asap. They are waiting for the govt.

Lost everything, fishing nets, boats etc. Mentally completely lost, can't go back to work, met one man who is not able to trace out son's body andis scared to go back to sea. They are staying in Killai area further from the main roads. Temp huts/acco needed.

Rs. 1000 each for temp housing. 50 kg of rice for them. Vessels we will collect from Chennai.

Q: I asked her why the amount of rice was so small.
Since they were directly effected they are expecting the govt to help out.

March there is the +2 exam lost all books. 100 children lost everything.Organized the youth who have lost their livelyhood as well to help give tution to these children and also work on a list of what is required.

Q: I asked about the closest govt officials and relief.
There is a police station in Killai (near main road area) and one office is set up inside there. Was talking to the RDO (Revenue Directing Officer) don't know who will be incharge.

In the Kalyana Mandapam in Killai there are are communities from many other affected villages:
Kannaginagar - 10 familes - 2 died. One child not been able to trace the body.Same situation as Pillainedu. Don't know what to do and are too shocked to even speak.
Chinnavoyal - 50 families - 15 ppl died. Same situation.
MGR Vidal - 170 familes - 50 ppl have died in the village. 18 ppl not traceable till now.
Malukku Thurai - 150 families - 6 ppl died. Managed to recover all bodies.
Other Irula village in this area have lost nets and boats.
MGR Nagar - 150 familes - 8 ppl have died, 6 bodies found.17 have lost everything as they were closer to the shore. Can't go back to work. Need temp food arrangement.
Kalangial Nagar - 160 familes - same situation as Pillainedu. They also lost nets and boats. There is also no light in the village.

I'll post more details as I get them.


Onsite Update :: from Rajaram in Chennai [1]

Hello All,

Here are some updates regarding the Tsunami relief efforts.

As Lakshmi mentioned in her previous Email, Asha Chennai is planning to assist the families that have lost their houses (the actual tenants and not the people who owned these huts) in the Kuppams near BesantNagar. Asha Chennai would be allocating Rs 50,000 from our buffer funds towards the Tsunami relief efforts. (Note I have talked to as many of the local volunteers as I could since we couldnt call a meeting). This would be used for the efforts being undertaken in Besant Nagar area as well as to advance money for actions elsewhere for which the broader Asha would like us to fund immediately.

Towards the activities in Besant Nagar we have the following potential donors,

1. Prof. B. Subramaniam from IIT (in charge of NSS) has contacted a newspaper in Hamburg which wants to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the families affected in Urur/Olcott Kuppam and especially pay for the needs of the school children whose families are affected.

2. Vijaya Sundaram hope to raise funds for these purposes from the employees of Cairn Energy.

3. Several donors have already come forth to support families under the Support-a-Family project to put these families back on their feet as soon as possible.

Further today Sairam (a volunteer from Asha Seattle) and I visited the Bhoomika Trust and AID both here near Lloyd's Rd. They are both sending volunteers and supplies to various places in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and other affected areas. They are planning to setup centers here for long term rehab. They seem to be doing good work. They also seem to be coordinating
well with several smaller NGOs. They are currently not coordinating with the government or other big NGOs like Red Cross. They intend to do this as well.

They are planning on having a meeting on Sunday the 2nd Jan at 9:30 am with all NGOs to coordinate the action going forward. I plan to attend this. All volunteers are welcome. We would get a clearer idea of how we can participate in the rehab work in the long term.

Note if any Asha volunteers can go with these supplies from AID/Bhoomika Trust to Cuddalore or Nagapattinam that would be great. Please let me know.

As for the immediate needs Bhoomika Trust did not have specific immediate needs in terms of supplies. AID required medicines. Both Sairam and I are enquiring about the costs etc. We intend to buy supplies for about US $1000 equivalent (I assumed from Asha Seattle). We may be advancing this money from Asha Chennai initially.


Onsite Update :: from Namita in Chennai

There was a warning today about the possibility of a second wave. The resulting panic threw our documentation efforts at Olcott into bit of a mess. We are putting whatever we did onto an excel sheet that will be on the web giving details on children's needs.

We have also begun documenting the needs of families in Orur and Velankani.

Since we were already there when the people started pouring in, we were able to provide some support to Lakshmi as the school compound was used again as atemporary shelter. The Olcott alumni turned up as always and were a great source of support.

As far as we know, there has been no actual wave or inundation of water, although there are some reports of water level rising in the Marina. We went to various places between Theosophical Society and Velankanni temple but saw nothing.

That's it for now, more later.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Project Update :: CAST (Praveen)

I spoke to Sucila Pandian last night. They are sending a team of 15 people to the coastal villages. They are collecting rice and clothing to take there. I have asked them to take adequate precautions before doing the relief work - especially since some of them maybe helping with moving the bodies. She's promised to keep us in the loop on what's going on with the effort.

She's also thinking about a long term rehabilitation project for the affected areas. We haven't discussed it in detail yet. Let me know if there are other things I should pass on to her.

Asha Berkeley

Projects Update :: Valluvar Gurukulam (Sanjeev)

Dear Sanjeev

Thanks for your concern.

All the children, staff and volunteers of Valluvar Gurukulam Schools and
doctors, staff and volunteers of Hindu Mission Hospital are safe.

We are running daily medical relief camp in the shore villages.

We you all and Ms.Asha a Very Happy New Year

With regards

Valluvar Gurukulam

Projects Update :: Urur- Olcott (Lakshmi)

1. People from Olcott memorial school have moved out. We are starting school today. This will help to provide food and protection to the children of the school during the day. So parents can attend to work and try to move towards normalcy.

2. Those of the villagers who hgave pucca homes and have been marginally affected have returned to their homes. They have received good short term support. Their children’s neds will be taken care of in the next week. Local support is available for this

3. The really affected –150 families- Nearly 30 families who are tenants and migrants into the city in last few years, have gone to the Corporation School at Sastrinagar Adyar (very close to my mother’s residence. Namita Jacob (IIT Chennai) has the list of people their requirements made yesterday by 1pm. More people have joined in the evening when they saw that things
were happening very honestly. The Corporation Junior Engineer and an official are supporting the people very constructively. One policeman is on duty at the place 24 hours. We are starting our Rehab work from here. We have a program which I have named Support a family SAF for convenience. Details of this I shall write tonight.

4. My friend Sandhya Sunder has started work in two villages Nemili Kuppam 13i families and New Nemilikuppam 62 families on the coast south of Kovalam since yesterday as it was discovered that new Nemili did not have enough food. Food was arranged and also plans for sustaining this over a week has been done for immediate relief. For rehab she has been able to collect Rs40,000 in a few hours. She will writing her mail to me soon with details of action plan to me sometime today.

5. At Asha chennai we are starting our work at Satrinagar rehab and also proose to take up support to sandhya right now. We will pick up efforts systematically and keep you all posted on developments. The pattinapakkam area will need support . Namita was there and we will see
how we can move ahead.

IIT volunteers will help us under Namita’s coordination.
Bye for the day for OMHS day begins in aboyt 30 minutes.


Projects Update :: Udavum Karangal (Santhosh)

Dear Santosh Padmanabhan,

Greetings from Udavum Karangal. I understand that you had contacted our head office this morning regarding the help to Tsunami victims. Please note that we are planning to do something for the victims.

As the city dwellers get more relief measures, we plan to indentify a small village (about 500 houses) near CuddaloreChidambaram, where the devastation was more and a number of poor families have been affected, for extending our help. You are most welcome to join us in this effort. You can contact me or Pappa Vidyaakar.


Projects Update :: FORWORD (Ananth)

I have gotten in touch with Ms.Shiamala Baby, of the FORWORD project in Kancheepuram, and here is the update.

She is fine, and preliminary analysis says all the kids and families are safe! The school infrastructure has not suffered much damage. But the families of the children seem to have suffered a bit. The affected families have been temporarily relocated to an Ashram nearby, and shelter has been provided. Also, relief measures have been rushed in, and as of yesterday, Ms. Shiamala Baby, has quoted to have distributed more than 100 kgs of Rice, and other items.

I have requested her to make a Damage Assessment Report, and send it over to us as soon as possible. I will keep you all updated.

Projects Co-ordinator, Asha-UFlorida

Projects Update :: Urur Kuppam (Lakshmi)

Dear All,

At Urur and Olcott Kuppam:

Food is available to residents.

Many families have claimed and received the immediate govt. grant of Rs 2000. There some tenants however who are not being recogonised for support. We are working in this area.

Yesterday a team of 15 of us from OMHS, TOS, IIT, Rani Meyyammai College, The school KFI went out to support Senguttuvan and team with the survey. We completed the survey and mapping by 4pm.

The number of families who were living in the 55 thatched houses is somewhere in the order of 200 as many huts were subdivided for rent. We will be compiling the results around 10 am today.

We plan to reach the rehab efforts individually to these families who have lost so much.
There is support promised for the students of the OMHS and the Urur Kuppam school children for lost text books and notebooks and uniforms. We have started assuring parents that they can stop worrying in this area and concentrate on settling themselves.

As regards donation to the Theosophical Order of Service, here are the details-

Bank’s Name and address- Standard Chartered Bank,
Sorrento, Adyar Branch, Chennai 600020, India
Account Number- 42810001582
Title of the Account- The Theosophical Society
Purpose- Tidal catastrophe Relief
Email address-

Please send an email to the above address and to me if you have remitted any money.

Please also write your postal address for us to be able to send receipts as this mandatory under the Indian FCRA regulations act.

Today we will be finalizing the order of priority in which these donations will be used for relief.

More after 24 hours

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Projects Update :: Tamil Nadu (Sanjeev, Santhosh & Vinod)

We've been calling up all Tamil Nadu Asha projects. The current status is recorded in the following Excel spreadsheet.

Tamil Nadu Projects Update

Projects Update :: Anawim (Vignesh)

Dear all

I spoke with Mr. Sekar of Anawim trust. They did a physical survey of all the villages. One village, Senthilneethi, was about a 100 ft away from the shore, and has been completely washed out. There has been no loss of life, because people saw it coming and rushed to Tiruchendur. However, all their boats have been destroyed and houses too. Apparently, Govt funds are allocated to only those whose families suffer loss of life. For the current, Mr.Sekar has arranged for about Rs1000/family from IOI as an emergency fund. He said he would work on
sending what the estimated costs of rebuilding will be. The significant damage was to the fishing equipment, which will make it more difficult for the fisher-folk to get back to work. The estimated cost for Senthilneethi is approx Rs 25000/house (for 20 families) Rs 500,000. There is no chapter funding Senthilneethi at the moment. Mr.Sekar will get back to us with more details in a day or two.

Re: Mangalwadi: The situation is not serious, there was some water that entered the houses, but there was no loss of life or property. None of the other Anawim villages were affected.

Re: rehab efforts, Mr.Sekar will be visiting Anawim shortly and he said that he would keep us updated on the ongoing efforts.


Projects Update :: Nalamdana (Madhav)


Nalamdana people are fine. I am not sure if they are doing any relief work.


Projects Update :: Urur Kuppam (Lakshmi)

Dear All,

As much as I know personally, where I have direct involvement-

About 50-55 thatched houses have been washed away. Some of the families have managed to salvage some of their belongings after 10.30 am on the same day.

Water has entered pucca houses in the lower areas and wet all belongings which were on the floor. Clothes in several houses have become wet and muddied by this. Hence
immediate relief work is in progress on a war footing for the residents of Urur Kuppam, Olcott Kuppam. The ways this is happening are:

1. The Olcott Memorial High School grounds and the assembly hall have been kept open from 9am on the day of the Tsumani- Sunday morning. There are on an estimate close to 1000 people in the campus.

2. On the first day the govt. authorities provided food at noon and night. Several concerned citizens have joined in and there is enough food (even more than what can be really consumed in a day. These include rice- sambar packets, bread, biscuits and these are being distributed liberally)

3. Clothes and bed sheets (including a number of new ones) for men, women and children have also been distributed in plenty and barring may be a few people who were not in the place when the loads came in all have received at least a set of clothes.

Rehabilitation Plans-
1. The Theosophical Order of Service, which has for over 100 years worked with the Urur villages has started a survey with the help of teachers and alumni of Olcott School since Sunday evening. Senguttuvan who has lost his house (bamboo thatch hut on the beach at the Eastern end) and his team of young men and women are doing the survey and will come up with the list by Thursday. This is to ensure that no family that has suffered material losses is left out and no persons unaffected get the benefits. (Relief is open to all and we have found that there is a lot of food and material being hogged by many who are not even remotely affected.)

2. NGOs like Vishranthi, Rotary Clubs have started accumulating clothes and bed sheets at the Green Gate of the Theosophical Order of Service (TOS).

3. The TOS has a separate counter at the Treasury inside the Theosophical Society campus to receive money donations. ( Will post the details on how to send foreign donations to the TOS after I get the correct details from the Theosophical Society this morning)

4. The TOS will as much as it can ensure that rehab work is started by end of the week.
5. The TOS plans to extend support to Urur Kuppam and Olcot Kuppam

Odai Kuppam has been just slightly affected. A few houses have been damaged (may be 4- will know for certain after Thursday) need reconstruction.

This morning some of us plan to do start a survey of Tiruvanmiyur and Palavakkam areas to assess need for rehab with the help of the affected in the local areas.

From Sekar Ramakrishnan and Geetha Ramakrishnan I have info that North Madras relief work is also progressing on lines similar to what is happening at Besant Nagar.

At Pattinapakkam- Foreshore Estate work is in progress but hampered because of difficulties in reaching the homes as water is still not flown out of the low-lying areas.

I shall try and see that my next update comes in around same time to morrow morning. I need to get back to Olcott School for extending support to relief operations J, at least control the queues.


Monday, December 27, 2004

Onsite Update :: from DP in Chennai [2]


More updates from Tamilnadu:

1. Nagapattinam District (from Siddhamma) 5000 still missing; 2000 dead Most traumatized region. Many children impacted. Problem with mass burial - virus infection issue poses concern. Gandhian Jagannathan and his NGO are among those helping. Siddhamma working to assess specific needs.

2. Ayothikuppam village (from Chandravel) 15 dead; 30 missing; 7000 people living here have lost their belongings including huts, clothes, utensils, nets, catamarans. Govt officials actively engaged with shelter relocation, food, clothing, healthcare. 18 volunteers from TRY and Madras School of Social Work cooperating with the govt and several other relief organizations here. Could use hundred more bedsheets and hundred more sarees. Cost approx $500.

3. Thiruvallur District (from Siddhamma) 20 dead; All catamarans washed away Relocated people to 8KM inland to Ponneri village Bedsheets, cooking utensils; ricebags needed. Cost estimates in progress.

4. Urur Kuppam village (from Jeba, Sundar, DP) No lives lost; though Principal Margaret suspects some children are missing. 28 young boys from the Urur village who have been positively impacted since the beginning of Project Pride in year 2000, took us around the
village. Several of these youngsters had bruises – each had in some way helped to rescue lives; recover catamarans and so on. The brave youth though are now apprehensive about the future and are in need of counseling and guidance. "If we stay here, the Tsunami could return and hurt us; yet we can't leave as we are jobless and know of no other vocations but fishing". They said they are happy to see Asha volunteers by their side. Huts have been devastated. Several families have lost all their meager possessions. Several relief organizations are at work. The youth felt the able bodied and strong from the village are getting help while some families that need help are not yet reached. NET action items from discussion:

(1) Conduct survey – Satya; Identify families that are in need of help; pay special attention to needs of children, girls, elderly, those with disabilities.
(2) Healthcare (Saravanan) – work with Dr. Sundar to treat the bruises (mostly minor) suitably
(3) Jobs (Venkat) – identify the aspirations of the youth in the village; create opportunities for training with alternate vocations as desired and determined by the youth themselves.
(4) NGOs list (Jagan)– List all the NGOs helping the village now so that Asha can focus on areas where there is need but help is not adequate.

While the crisis has created much chaos, overall a pattern is emerging for organizing solutions effectively:

I. Short Term Needs – Food, Clothing, Shelter, Healthcare Govt and many NGOs already hard at work; Asha's role can be supportive, filling the gaps wherever necessary.
II. Medium Term Need – Counseling & Psychological Support Asha can help with counseling of women and children who have lost their loved ones and possessions; and help rebuild a future. TRY is addressing this now.
III. Long Term Need – Alternate Jobs for the Youth Girls are interested in textile industry – embroidery, design making, screen printing; Boys have expressed interest in computers, sports, law, marketing, engineering. Overall they all need more choices and exposure to jobs other than the fishing industry. This is a strategic solution and is an area where Asha can play a pivotal role organizing job fairs methodically in the long run.

There is also a consensus that
(i) We need to work with the government at every opportunity available
(ii) Organizations need to interlock to avoid redundancy; Delegation of tasks among organizations can make the reach wider, deeper and more effective

Efforts in progress to interlock with other organizations as identified by Netika. More in the next update.


Financial Contributions to Asha India

Dear friends,

If you would like to make a financial contribution towards relief work in the south, in the wake of the recent calamity, you may send your donations in the name of Asha which will be transferred to Asha volunteers there who are engaged in relief work.

In case you decide to make a contribution, please let us know over e-mail immediately so that we may transfer that amount from our account right away.


Donations (cheques and drafts) in the name of Asha may be sent to the following address:

Foreign donations - Payable at Varanasi, India
c/o Vallabhacharya
Village Bhandahan Kalan, P.O. Kaithi
Dist. Varanasi 221116
Uttar Pradesh

Indian donations - Payable at Lucknow, India
c/o Sandeep
A-893, Indira Nagar
Lucknow 226016
Uttar Pradesh

Projects Update :: Tamil Nadu (Sanjeev)

I spoke to Subhash at Auroville. The schools there were not effected. The nearby coastal villages were effected though. The govt and auroville are working on relief. There are around 100 families who are now being taken care of in tents in auroville grounds an there is enough food and clothing available. They might require help in the rehabilitation it will be clear in a few days.

Spoke to Lakshmi at Seva Chakkara. Orphanage was not hit. They are tying to help Pattinapakam which is near them and on the Marina. This area appears to have been worst hit in Chennai. The few volunteers there may be able to help with the reach out.

Spoke to a watchman at Anawim, he said everyone around is ok. It was too late and I couldn't get in touch with anyone else there. I will follow up later today.

Also spoke to Lakshmi aunty at Asha Chennai. DP has already covered the developments there. Food, clothes is available for immediate relief around Besant Nagar. Aunty mentioned that help was needed in Kadalore and they are trying to figure out what to do about it. Rehabilitation efforts will be clear in a few days.

I'm not sure how many project coordinators are around. (I just got back from the grand canyon myself). Can we the ppl around pick projects around TN and call them to ask if they were effected or are participating in the relief/rehabilitation work. This way it may also become clear how we can be part of the effort. Could you please post your updates to an ashawide group.



Press Release :: Asha for Education responds to Tsunami Victims

Asha for Education, a global non-profit organization that supports education projects throughout India, has launched an appeal to support relief efforts in response to the widespread devastation caused by tidal waves and floods along the coasts of Southern India.

On the morning of December 26th, a massive earthquake occurred near Sumatra, Indonesia, which caused a series of tsunamis to strike the coasts of India and other South Asian countries. The quake registered 8.9 in magnitude, the worst earthquake in 40 years. The tsunamis destroyed homes, roads, and swept people out to sea. More than 24,000 people are reported dead and up to 2 million people have been left homeless.

Growing estimates indicate that close to 6000 people in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and the Andaman and Nicobar islands have been killed, and thousands more are homeless and without access to clean water, shelter, food or clothing. There is an immediate need to provide relief to the victims, and to evacuate those in affected areas.

Asha volunteers in India are currently assessing the impact of the disaster on projects in affected states, and are assisting with relief and rehabiliation efforts. In the last 13 years, Asha for Education has supported over 100 projects in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Asha is working with our partners to support rehabilitation work in the weeks and months to come.

How you can contribute to the relief effort:

Make a secure online donation by credit card at

Send checks in US dollars made payable to 'Asha for Education', with 'Tsunami Relief' in the memo, to this address:

Asha for Education
P.O. Box 322
New York, NY 10040-0322

All US donations are 100% tax deductible under Section 501(c)3 of the IRS Tax Code.

Send checks in Indian rupees made payable to 'Asha' (not Asha for Education) to this address:

Asha, c/o Sandeep
A-893, Indira Nagar,
Lucknow -226016
Uttar Pradesh

All Indian donations are 50% tax deductible under Section 80(g) of the Income Tax Act.

For additional information, please email:

Projects Update :: Urur Kuppam (Rajaram)

December 27, 7:24AM

Hello All,

Closer at hand, I talked to Lakshmi and Jebadurai today morning. There has been a lot of destruction of property in the Urur Kuppam Village. Thankfully there is little or no loss of life here. The Urur Kuppam School has been unaffected. Water did not enter into the school. The affected villagers are housed in Olcott Memorial School. There are about 750 people that are housed in that school. Lakshmi is coordinating things with the government on the relief works for the people here.

Margaret informed Jeba that many of the students' families have lost everything. Jeba was in Urur Kuppam and he said many organisations like Infosys were coming and distributing items to people. However the common complaint is that many people who are completely unaffected and who have multi-storeyed buildings in the Kuppam are also coming and claiming these. I heard the exact same thing from Lakshmi as well.

Lakshmi went through Urur Kuppam and neighbouring hamlets. About 50-55 houses are badly hit. Others have also suffered some damages. A lot of supplies are coming in. But as mentioned earlier they are not necessarily going to just the needy. The situation is similar in other places of Chennai (like North Chennai). From what we hear other places outside the city require supplies much more desparately. But we do not know how to channelise them at the moment.

The need of the hour for Urur Kuppam is bed-sheets / blankets and basic clothes (like sarees, churidhars, pant/shirts etc.). If any one has these they can bring them to Olcott Memorial School. Also if any one can volunteer their time, they would be very useful at Olcott Memorial School. As for monetary donations etc. hold for another day or two before we get a clear picture about the needs. We would also like to identify an organisation to route donations to for work at
other places in Tamilnadu.

Once again there are no casualties in Urur Kuppam and neighbouring hamlets. The Urur Olcott Kuppam School is unaffected. So is the Balwadi (information from Jeba).


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Onsite Update :: from DP in Chennai [1]


The 8.9 earthquake at Sumatra, Indonesia and the resultant Tsunami have devastated many regions in South India. Relief work in progress.

1. Here is what some of the volunteers are doing about it. Principal Margaret is assessing the needs at Urur village - this is one of the villages that took a direct hit and Asha has been supporting the education needs at this village since year 2000; Siddhamma is working on assessing impact at Thiruvallur. Chandravel is deeply engaged at relief work in Marina beach. Work in progress to compile data about affected Asha projects in other South Indian villages.

2. Here is what we are doing next. A number of Asha volunteers are having an emergency meeting at Asha Home [T58A, 32nd Cross St, Besant Nagar, Chennai] today at 8:30 AM to assess the impact to all Asha supported villages and projects and develop an action plan to reach out beginning with these projects. Site visits to as many villages as possible are planned throughout the week.

3. Every effort is being made to interlock with relief work already in progress by the government and other organizations.

4. If you are involved in an Asha project in the coastal Tamilnadu, Andhra, Orissa, Kerala region, and need help in reaching out to your project, send a note to

5. Some of us got to see the Tsunami first hand. The sea receded upto 500m (almost fading into a distant horizon; it was a surreal ,unearthly, life-changing experience) and came back at very high speeds with massive tidal waves measuring 10-20 feet, invading the inlands by upto 500m more than normal, washing/tossing/crashing every man made structure inbetween effortlessly. The massive oscillations (receding and invading) continued for about 20 minutes. Several died on the spot. Some managed to escape with bruises all over. Some of us were lucky being just barely outside the range of impact.

6. The CM of Tamilnadu who has been visiting the disaster sites by helicopter said, this might be the worst natural disaster in Indian history considering the damage done by the Tsunami (all in less than 20 minutes). Over 12,000 dead overall (Andaman, SriLanka, Tamilnadu among worst hit, apart from the Indonesian region); Over 1567-3000 dead in Tamilnadu...and many hundreds are still missing. Breakdown shows the following regions as the worst hit so far. Nagapattinam - 788; Kadalur - 290; Kanyakumari - 261; Chennai - 128; Kanchipuram -
59; Tiruvallur - 13. Andhra, Kerala, Orissa are reporting losses of around 100 lives each. The statistics on Indian TV channels varies and it will take a few more days to get the complete and exact picture.

More updates will follow shortly