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There's a Little Hippie in All of Us

Tsunami Relief Continued


...It took no time at all to decide that our misfortune should result in our helping the victims of the massive tsunami that hit only one month before. The only question was where and how do we help. Our friends in India gave us the answer, 38 hours by train and a 12 hour car ride later we were in the Southeast India, specifically the towns of Pondicherry and Cuddalore. The mission was in action. With the invaluable help of our friend as interpreter, and a speedy rickshaw driver, we arrived at the coastline of the body of water that had swept away hundreds of thousands of loved ones, along with the hopes and dreams of millions. There we came in contact with our first compound of survivors. Approximately 50 people sharing a small corner on the grounds of a blind & deaf school. Their shelter consisted of makeshift tents using sticks and tarps. We met with the people living there and explained that we were there to help.

We instantly connected to an 8 years old girl in the local camp. She didnít understand English or us Hindi, but it was a mutual understanding that we were there to help and she needed someone to witness her story and offer empathy. We held hands and took a path through the palm tree woods together. There was debris of homes, boats, trees, glass, and trash everywhere. The little girl had no shoes, so we offered for her a piggyback ride. She showed us where her fishing community once was, then led us to their temple. A simple small structure knocked off its concrete base by the waves. It held a statue inside and a trident was staked in front of it. We sat and prayed together at the remains of the altar. Together we approached the ocean. It appeared so calm, inviting, and innocent. It was the line up of fishing boats torn in half that gave away evidence of the destruction that had taken place less than two months prior. In ten minutes that beautiful ocean had destroyed a whole village that had existed where we were standing. We stood on the beach and cried with the little girl consoling her.
Back at the refugee camp we had with us supplies to give out. We filled the arms of everyone there with medical supplies, bedding, snacks, toys and writing supplies for the children. We asked them what else they needed. The mothers grouped together to discuss it and decided to ask for clothing and supplies for the children so they could go back to school. That night we were able to meet all the mothers and a good amount of the children in the local town of Pondicherry. Some came barefoot because they simply did not own shoes anymore. We were able to supply every adult and child living in that compound with changes of cloths, shoes, book bags for school, and as much rice as could be carried back.    

The second group that we helped was from Project Hope a sight holding 3,000 refugees. This was so hard to bear because we could not help all of them or offer enough to make a dent. But what we did by some great stroke of luck was connect to two very good-hearted fishermen. One was a leader from a small local community that was completely devastated. We donated four fishing nets to this community leader. He in turn shared them with six other families. Each net feeds 10-15 people a day. The nets are $250 USD that is quite expensive to a resident in India whose per capita income is 12,416 Rupees per year or about $285 in US dollars.

Words can not express enough of what it is like to bring help and hope into these peopleís lives. The words they spoke to us: The Gods are not in heaven, they are right here in front of us, when we look to the stars we will see your faces. I broke us down to pieces. It felt so natural  to help them and the effect of gratitude of such high proportion. The fishermen have adopted us as sister and brothers. We have plans in the works to visit and spend time with them again and will create a secure channel so that others can send money directly down if they wish to.

The lesson learned is humanity. That it can be a very simple or grand effort that can make a change in others lives, and then in result changing your own life greater than can be imagined.

May we all live a life of decency, peace, love, and hope.