On December 26, 2004, the devastating tsunami resulting
from a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean off the coast of
Indonesia wreaked havoc over much of coastal Asia, with one of the hardest
hit areas being the south Indian province of Tamil Nadu.
A Tamil-speaking fellow initiate introduces Master to villagers.
After having experienced the tsunami, the sufferers
need both material aid and spiritual comfort.
In response to the disaster, a relief team from the
Singapore Center arrived in Chennai, India on December 29. After gathering
preliminary information on the situation, the team traveled 330 km south
to the fishing community of Nagappatinam, which experienced a severe
impact from the tidal wave. Most of the houses near the beach were totally
destroyed, and the victims took refuge in schools and other public places
such as temples, churches and mosques. Cooked food was supplied at these
relief shelters by both governmental and private organizations.
While interviewing residents along the road, with the
help of the only Tamil-speaking brother on the team, the initiates learned
that 150 families living at a remote relief camp 25km away lacked food.
And after visiting the camp, the sisters and brothers immediately traveled
to a nearby town to purchase bread and cookies, and then distributed
the food to the victims late into the night. The next day, the relief
team also purchased utensils and more food to distribute to the camp
residents, who were very grateful to receive the supplies.
As the areas affected by the tsunami spanned a great
distance, the initiates decided to split into two teams, with one going
farther south and the other moving toward the north.
On January 1, 2005, the northern relief team visited
an affected site 20km north of Karaikkal city. While surveying the site,
representatives of a village containing 42 families approached the initiates
for help, and so they quickly purchased the needed food items and utensils
at night and distributed them the following day. Then over the next
few days, they surveyed a number of villages around Karaikkal and then
purchased and distributed food, cooking utensils, personal hygiene items,
sleeping mats and blankets to the residents of several villages. The
recipients accepted the supplies with much joy, appreciation and gratitude
to Master and Her assistants.
During the distribution at one of the remote villages
around Karaikkal, the relief team met the local district counselor and
several government officials, police and army officers who were there
to provide law and order and gather statistics on the situation in the
area. These individuals welcomed the team's relief efforts and also
expressed gratitude for Master's love shown in such a helpful way.
The initiates also distributed writing materials to
residents of two villages, where the children were extremely happy and
thankful to Master for Her gifts. The relief team also provided aid
to Muslim families affected by the disaster in the historic port town
Meanwhile the southern relief team traveled approximately
300 km to the Kanniyakumari district in the southern-most part of Tamil
Nadu State. There fifteen villages had been affected by the tsunami.
In the village of Kadiapattanam, 1800 families lacked adequate food,
having only five kilograms of rice per family. After assessing the residents"
needs, the relief team supplied each family with 10kg of rice, 5kg of
dal (beans), and 1kg of tomatoes and eggplants each.
In another village, Periavilia, the school children
needed items such as stationery and material for school uniforms, which
the initiates promptly purchased and distributed.
While the victims" basic food needs and water
supply were being taken care of by the government and private organizations
in most of the villages, the nutritional requirements of the infants
and children were being neglected. So the relief team bought milk powder,
milk bottles and nutritional beverages to distribute to families that
required these items in the villages of Periavilai, Channavilai, Manukari
The parish priest of one of the local churches remarked
that The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association was the
first group to have delivered these food items to the children. The
villagers were happy to receive the relief supplies together with leaflets
explaining Master's teachings and were very thankful for Master's love