Monday, January 24, 2005

Onsite Update :: from Lakshmi in Chennai

Dear All,

Lots of things have happened and are happening in Tsunami affected areas.

The continuous work from 26th December till 17th Jan, seemed to tell on me and the last few days have been work of consolidation, accounts, less of field work. Hence some gap in the updates.

SAF Efforts

On 16th afternoon the work of SAF saw a sudden stop at this address, after we volunteers working from 9/40 Damodarapuram, were mobbed by as many as 300 odd people many of them from the areas not even affected by the Tsunami. The previous two days saw so many people ask for support and we worked all day to get the needs addressed. Since 16th we are working through volunteers and friends and delivering material and money very quietly to the affected people after due diligence of course. The work has slowed down no doubt, yet we are continuing in spite of these odds. The volunteers of Sunmin who gave us their place are dealing with the people’s enquiries at the place very carefully, firmly and patiently. That they are the local people is helping us immensely. We are getting donations steadily for the SAF.

Support to School children through direct contact.

Trinity School in Atlanta (introduced through Asha Toronto volunteer) has in its first installment of donations, delivered through their contacts in Chennai Rs71449 for their child to child program of helping children affected by the Tsunami. The children of the school have raised money through various sales…Their principal Stephen Kennedy and their teacher Cessie White coordinating this programme are in touch. Our local contact is Dorothy Thomas , a lawyer working in Chemnai working through their law firm. This installment is being used to support 89 children in Nemmilikuppam as per the xls sheet attached. We will be giving the first gifts to 89 children at Nemilikuppam on Wednesday 26, Jan 2005 at around 12 noontime IST. The purchases have been made, individual packings have been done and all ready to go. On Wednesday, when we are there, we will get the details of the colours of the uniforms for the different schools and then get them made in a week or ten days time and sent over. Dorothy has been informed and she said she would be there to take the pictures and talk to the children and people of the village.

More support is coming from the same school for other areas and schools as well. The supervisor of Chennai Corporation schools of Zone 6 Ms. Mercy Joshua (along the coast in the Santhome to Triplicane area) will be submitting their requirements of the children in her zone who would need support in school similar to what we have done in Nemmilikuppam. (Rajaram and I have known Ms Joshua as a vibrant, enthusiastic and forward thinking supervisor in our earlier interactions as part of the Chennai Citizen’s Forum.) She will be sending across her list by tomorrow. She is also geeting for us the lists in the other zones where the children need support.

Schools in the region between Royapuram and Tiruvattiyur ( North Chennai) are being similarly supported by Paul Sundersingh of Karunalaya, a home from orphaned children on the 29th of Jan. This is Paul’s own initiative and he has found the necessary funding. He will be providing us the list and guidance for children of schools between Tiruvattiyur and Ennore by this weekend. We do have promises of more funding for this project from various organizations. The work will extend to early February.

Boats and fishing nets are being looked into and provided in some places in small numbers by NGOs and inviduals through support from corporates. Asha Chennai has been requested for support for 4 boats for Nemmilikuppam by individuals Sandhya and Anushka. Support to the inviduals has been approved, but the details of the costs will be submitted after Wednesday when we will get quotes from the fisherfolk from different firms for repair of their boats that are repairable. There are about 14 boats out of the 43 (both motorized and catamarans) that can be repaired.

Some other Updates

- The CBSE Board of exams has announced a postponement of its exams for Std 12 and 10 in the Tsunami affected areas.
- Efforts are on from Tulika to create workbooks for children that will help children to come to terms with their losses and fears through interesting and enjoyable activities. This is primarily done at the request from Dr. Aruna Ratnam coordinating UNICEF support activities in Kanniyakumari districts. Once the workbooks are ready, I feel, may be we at Asha Chennai can consider if we can send them to children and schools we are supporting, as part of our support and follow up of rehab for children.

I met Prasanna, Jeba, Satyapriya, Dhanalakshmi and Siddhamma for an hour in T58 A on Sunday morning of 223rd, when I thought the concall with the relief commissioner would happen. With me was a volunteer from Washington DC, Shaina, who had come to participate in the Tsunami work. We saw the pictures taken by the Asha Honor team and the volunteers from UP, that has visited the various places and done their surveys, held discussions with NAPM and local officers of the govt. We also shared the difficulties both teams have encountered in our Tsunami relief and rehab efforts.

Shaina is working in an accounts firm in DC and she helped me recheck accounts, besides assist with purchases for the children of Nemmillikuppam in the two days she was here.