Saturday, January 15, 2005

Onsite Update :: from Lakshmi in Chennai

Dear All,

Much as I would have liked to write an update everyday, I have been very busy physically as also some of our other volunteers who are email savvy.


We have been able to meet 107 families till 15th January. We have fully supported 78 families with money for rent advance/materials for restarting livelihood small businesses. The others will be coming back today.

We have had to issue tokens with the time and date as yesterday we had a huge crowd of people coming together to us requesting support. We have staggered them till Friday 21st.

3/4 volunteers from UP come to help with relief work are helping in our work with helping with crowd control, photography. They are with us everyday from the time they have come in.

The highlight of SAF is that draws on the strengths and knowledge of the youth in the affected areas, supporting with information, weeding out people who have received support and coming for it again, adding the people who are weak and helpless, and also giving so much of their time.

A couple of Asha volunteers from US have been and are participating in this effort.


Poorna Vidya families affected very badly by the Tsunami were helped by the State bank of India with the following – 3 mats, 3 bedsheets, 3 pillows per family, I saree, one dhoti, 5kg rice and a school bag for each of 109 children in the school. I was invited to their formal distribution near the Indira Nagar branch Chennai-20, where I met the Relief Commissioner Mr. Santhanam who said he would certainly meet me or anybody else in his office to share our experiences on what works, especially with regard to distribution mechanism.

The Theosophical Order of Service has supported with funding and technology support for a fresh from sea water plant at Akkarapettai in Nagapattinam. The Hindu of Jan 8th carries a report on page 6.

OMHS is back to normal. The school authorities are considering supporting the affected families through the school. A careful scrutiny by a committee of teachers is in the process. The last four days of govt. holidays have slowed the work as children were not in school. We would be able to extend help to the affected families that need our support.

Yesterday Asha Chennai focus group on Tsunami relief and the individuals working with us met formally and shared and took stock of our work. The concrete plans of Asha Chennai work and involvement and projects to support became concrete. After a formal round for approval today at our meeting in another hour we will write out the details.

We found that the village folks away from the city in a few Kuppams we have personal knowledge of are quite united in their approach and very practical as well. The city people are trying to get their villagers into some semblance of sharing and caring with just a wee bit of success. However some positive changes are happening thanks to the focus of the village youth.

Funding support also was discussed and will be added to our formal report after today’s meeting.