In the coastal fishing villages along the coast of India, life revolves around fishing, family life, and community roots. The horrific December 26 tsunami tore through hundreds of these small villages, leaving behind painful memories and mountains of debris.
CCF workers have made preliminary damage assessments in five towns included in CCF’s Center for Hope project in the Kanyakumari district. In each of these villages, 80 to 100 percent of homes have been completely destroyed.
The damage in Kutilpadu, a fishing village of 2,500 people, is typical of the devastation all along India’s coast. Tsunami floodwaters took the lives of 176 people in this village, including more than 100 children (80 of them school-age children).
All 600 of the village's homes were completely wiped out, and the middle school is in ruins, leaving 425 children grades 1 through 8 without a school. Also destroyed was the town’s child development center, which used to offer supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check-ups, and health education to poor and vulnerable children ages 0 to 6. In addition, Kutilpadu’s entire water supply system was destroyed — including a community well, pump, water tank and pipelines — and needs to be completely rebuilt. Similar destruction was documented in four other CCF assisted villages — Azhikal, Melathurai, Pillaithopu, and Muttom.
The damage in these villages is a snapshot of the larger picture of utter destruction on India’s eastern coast. The damage to homes and critical services threatens the lives and livelihoods of children and families, and the reconstruction will be a monumental task.
As a part of the emergency response effort in India, CCF continues to distribute food and essential supplies, and is currently establishing Child-Centered Spaces in 50 hard-hit areas of India, offering informal education and organized activities to children and youth. CCF Child-Centered Spaces are also being used as gathering points for medical interventions and distribution of medical supplies.
Preliminary estimates of reconstruction and recovery costs in tsunami-ravaged countries are in the billions. And, since India is accepting relief from only a handful of organizations already established in the country, Christian Children’s Fund’s work in India is all the more critical. CCF has been working in India since 1951, and is well-positioned to deliver aid and recovery efforts. The real challenge now is long-term development and recovery, so that the tsunami generation will be able to rebuild their lives and recover the promise of their future.