19 July 2012
In this photo, captured in early 2006, a young boy watches the sunset in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In late 2004, a tsunami triggered by a 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean devastated thousands living in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, India. CNEWA was quick to respond and immediately began an emergency relief fund, which in a year’s time raised $965,555 for the victims affected by the disaster. In the March 2005 issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux wrote about the tsunami relief efforts of the local church and international community:
The Diocese of Kottar became the command center for all nongovernmental, tsunami-related social service activities in the district of Kanyakumari. Father Jeremias, Information Director of the Kottar Social Service Society, assigned NGOs to villages along the coast. Caritas Switzerland took responsibility for the heavily damaged village of Mela Manakudy and four others; the Holy Cross Sisters were sent to Puthoor; social workers from the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of Marthandom took charge of three towns; and Social Change and Development (an Indian NGO) went to Kottilpadu.
Many more were involved. The Sisters of St. Ann of Luzern joined mobile medical camps sent to the coastal villages. The Syro- Malankara Catholic Bethany Sisters started rebuilding a neighborhood in Kanyakumari. Syro-Malabar Catholic Bishop George Alencherry from neighboring Thuckalay tended to the smaller settlements around Colachel.
In all, more than 60 local NGOs and 16 international relief agencies stepped forward to work with Bishop Tharmaraj.
“The response has been enormous. We have almost 100 percent coverage of the damaged areas,” Father Jeremias said. “This powerful wave of destruction from nature has been met by an even more powerful wave of generosity from mankind.”
The story remains a powerful reminder of how CNEWA, through local churches, has been able to respond to those in need. For more, read Waves of Destruction.
Tags: India Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Water