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From the Field
Relief Workers' Report

UNITED SIKHS, an international non-profit human development NGO, is currently working to provide humanitarian aid to victims of the Asian tsunami disaster. Current UNITED SIKHS projects include relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nicobar Islands, South India, and Aceh, Indonesia.

An Account of the Past Three Days
(January 12)
By Lakhwinder Kaur of Singapore, UNITED SIKHS Team Counsellor in Chennai, South India

10 Jan 04
We had discussions at the local Gurdwara about the Sikh community's desire to build homes in a village which hit by the Tsunami.. We visited the Governor of Tamil Nadu S.S. Bernala at Raj Bhavan, he gave us a letter and totally supported our mission of wanting to build the houses. He did say that he was not fully aware of the extent of the damage in the places.

11 Jan 04
We took off to the Tsunami hit areas in the morning. Met with the Collector G.Singh Bedi who also was in total support of the mission of building of the homes. He said he will get the road built in the areas concerned and that he was aware too that there is huge need for emotional support in the places mentioned. Mdm C.K. Gariyali Relief Commissioner Cuddalore said that the orphan kids are being provided shelter and has 5Lakh kept aside for them.

She also indicated that the emotional state of the survivors is unhealthy and some are showing signs of depression , with someone recently having committed suicide. She asked for Couselling help. She wants me to meet with a local doctor who will update me and see where I can come in , which she said may be in terms of getting locals trained so that there are at least 4 counsillors working in each village... we will pursue this on 13 Jan.

We went to visit the village we are to build homes, Mulukuthaurai. We have taken extensive photos of this village, resided by fishermen whose homes were all washed away. They are all housed in shelters and we have visited them. There are 4 widows here , 2 of whom will live with their sons and 2 who will return to their maternal home; they each received 1 lakh rupees from the government. I feel this village is getting sufficient help and thus we will only need to build them their homes. A neighbouring village, MGR Tuttu, had all the islanders wiped out of ther homes and its 32 residents too are in the shelter homes!!

12 Jan 04
Today we visited several villages on islands that had been washed out by the large deadly wave . These villages, Mudasalodal and Thoniphurai, are peculiar in the sense that they house poor men who are on a daily wage and have no belongings> They dont even have clothes apart from what they wore at the time of the Tsunami. Their childrean too have only one set of clothing. We gave each of them some cash and food. We visited their kids school which has resumed classes and apart from 5 kids who had been killed by the tsunami, everyone else was in class. We gave 100 rupees cash to each of these kids and also some food - like chocolates and biscuits and bookmarks. They were all very receptive. We could improve EDUCATION here, have a colourful room and better services.It is all basic now. We have taken extensive photos here too. These villages are not receiving much help from the relief operation from the government for they had no personal possessions of their own that got washed out .. They were in the first place POOR!!

"The test of a successful person is not an ability to eliminate all problems before they arise, but to meet and work out difficulties when they do arise. We must be willing to make an intelligent compromise with perfection lest we wait forever before taking action.Its still good advice to cross bridges as we come to them. "
-- David Schwartz

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