Six months ago, in the aftermath of the tsunami, upon witnessing the unprecedented physical devastation, suffering and human grief here in our area, I (Frank) wrote the following comment in my first Tsunami Report to Family Care Foundation, describing my encounter with a dear Indian man I came in contact with:
The tsunami survivor started talking to me in Tamil saying that he had lost everything: his wife, three of his five children, his home and his boat. I could tell he just didn't have it in him to know how to start to rebuild his life.
Not knowing what to do I just took him in my arms and hugged him and then he burst forth in uncontrollable crying and grief. I, too, could not restrain the heartache. At last he got it out, all the pent up grief and uncertainty.
At that time I had also documented the following observation.
Anyone coming here must realize that when they come these people hurt deep inside. Not only do they need to rebuild their homes and lives and means of livelihood but many of them need to find a reason to even put forth the effort to carry on.
Now six months later, after a visit to the same area where we have been investing manpower and money, I can share the following:
This month I was able to visit the same beach I had visited six months previously --just four days after the tsunami hit-- and the change that has taken place is very encouraging.
When I walked the beach this time, it was refreshing. It was as if life had sprung up again in the hearts of the people. The beach, instead of its previous state of being strewn with wreckage and debris, was now full of new fishing boats. Men sat mending and preparing their new nets instead of untangling or burning the endless cobweb of nets that seemingly covered everything months before. There was hope in the air instead of despair, re-birth instead of death.
No one can ever bring back the lives that were lost, but for many there is hope of a new beginning. The tsunami brought unprecedented destruction, but in its wake, there is a catalyst for great change. The world community responded to the need and many things have changed for the better.