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.