The Tsunami Journal is a daily record from field in the worst hit tsunami regions of India, as told by Andrew Krieger. Andy is the foudner and CEO of IMGE Emergency Relief Fund, an organization devoted to rebuilding lives and livelihoods affected by the tsunami through sustainable grassroots development. LEARN MORE ABOUT ANDY'S RELIEF WORK AT: WWW.IMGEEMERGENCY.COM

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Journal 7: Elation

I woke up very early this morning. We were going to give out the first three Life Packages later in the day and I was extremely excited--but at the same time I had one nagging concern: what if the villagers couldn’t conquer their fears and go back in the water? They had been unable to set foot in the water even once since the tsunami, so this was a realistic possibility. Aside from the terrible loss of loved ones, their economic losses were total. Their boats and nets were the accumulated wealth of multiple generations, so their attitude of helplessness and despair was completely understandable. I was convinced that the people of Pudupattinam needed a positive jolt to jump-start their recovery from the recent devastation and I was hopeful that the new boats, nets, homes and life kits would do the trick.

As we drove down the coastline to the village my overwhelming instinct was that this was going to be a great day—a day of healing, a day of celebration. Since arriving in India just two and a half weeks before, I had traveled thousands of miles only to come full circle--right back to the first village I had visited upon my arrival. As we neared Pudupattinam I was struck by how different the energy in the car was from our first visit. Our first trip was thoroughly depressing, and the heavy silence in the car that day was broken only by our periodic muffled cries of fear, as our driver seemed not only suicidal, but he seemed intent to take us with him. It was five hours of white-knuckle silence. I had never been so sad – and so afraid for my life. Today everybody was laughing and making jokes. We had finally figured out how to communicate a clear message to our driver – we told him that every time he honked his horn or made a dangerous move, we would reduce his tip by 10 rupees – unless, of course, the horn was to scare away a wandering water buffalo, or perhaps to avoid somebody sleeping in the street. Mark Templer, our designated passenger in the “death seat,” was spared the harrowing experience of the prior week. Jamal returned to his old self, offering his sardonic observations, and I was finally enjoying a car trip in India.

When we reached the village, I was overwhelmed by the grace of the scene greeting me. There were two long lines of beautiful, shining young faces--about 400 in all—lined up to greet me and Mark. Every one of the children, from the 2-year-olds to the 17-year-olds, stood patiently in line, greeting me with unbelievable smiles and hopeful looks that I might stop and spend a little time with them. I don't know Tamil, but I didn't need a translator at that moment. These children were able to communicate their love and appreciation with their looks, their smiles, and their gentle hands--with which they reached out to touch me and connect with me in simple, but very personal ways. I stopped and spent time with every one of them. Some laughed, some shared high fives, and some just wanted to hold my hand in a gentle clasp.

Later in the day, the children started speaking to me, one by one, to tell me their stories. They spoke of their losses, their fear, their pain, and now--for the first time since the tsunami—they told me they could speak of their hope. They all asked for books, pens, writing pads--and better teachers. Their village school was washed away, and even though the school wasn't very good in the first place, the children missed what little education they were getting before disaster struck. These children and their families had lost everything, but somehow they had the intuitive sense that the best thing for them would be to try to revert to their old patterns and get some normalcy back in their lives.

We then headed to the beach for a brief gathering in which the village elder formally thanked us for coming to their aid in their time of greatest need. He noted that he didn’t know why we had selected his village, but he was so grateful that somehow God had us directed us to them. Mark and I spoke as well, and I remember feeling remarkably moved by the experience. I told them that they were my family and that family members need to help one another when they have problems.

Deep down I was certain that I was benefiting more this than they were, as I was bathing in an amazing pool of love. I didn’t think that the day could possibly get any better, but it did when they whisked me off to the shoreline for a religious ceremony to dedicate the boats. I was asked to participate in the simple, but touching puja (worship) celebration in which the boats were offered to God. I held a coconut with a little lit lamp and circumambulated the boats while all the villagers crowded around. The fishermen decided to take the boats out into the water and test them out—with me in the first boat. I found the whole experience incredible as it was clear that I had somehow been allowed to enter into their lives in a very intimate way. I had been a party to their fears, their pain, and now I was going to share in their recovery.

The boat ride was wonderful. Five young men went out with me and although they were very nervous at first, they started to relax after a couple of minutes. The salt air smelled terrific and I loved the feeling of the sea splashing on my face. After we had gone about two kilometers out to sea, they felt sufficiently comfortable that they decided to cast the net. The sudden shift in energy from trepidation to confidence was palpable, and thrilling. One thing was for sure – I now understood why the men were all so fit. Casting the net is an elaborate process as it is nearly a kilometer long, and hauling it in takes phenomenal strength and balance. It took about twenty minutes to complete this process, after which they spontaneously started shouting and singing—and then joyously leaped and flipped into the water in what seemed almost like another dance of joy. The villagers on the coastline could see this and I saw them celebrating as well.

On the drive back to the hotel, each of us shared our personal impressions of the day. As everyone recounted their experiences, it became overwhelmingly clear that we had just shared a sacred moment, a joyous day that celebrated life and the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. We all felt blessed to be a part of such a day and we really didn’t think it could ever get any better. The rest of the ride home was quiet, but it was the silence of joy that needed no verbal expression.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Day 6: Progress

We are starting to make great progress towards the implementation of the Save the Family program. Our initial plan was to adopt a village at Nagapattinam, but the high political profile of that town is going to make this impossible at this point. The government is exerting total control over all relief activities in these “sensitive” areas, whether the activities are classified as aid or reconstruction. Therefore, rather than have tense relations with the local revenue collector, we are going to work on the reconstruction of villages which welcome our input and efforts.

The good news is that today we have identified the first two villages that we are going to “adopt,” Puddupattinam and Oyyalikuppam. Puddupattinam has 300 families, 150 of which are without homes; Oyyalikuppam has 150 families, 100 of which are homeless. I visited them last week, and although they didn’t have quite the same dramatic “bombed out” look of Nagapattinam, they were quite devastated and the people living there have shattered lives. The villagers and the government in these places welcome our help, which is great, and there are other requirements in these villages that I would like to satisfy as well. For example, their school was swept away by the tsunami, and they don’t have an adequate medical clinic. Also, they don’t have a wedding hall or community center. I am hoping that we can raise the money to construct these buildings as well once we have outfitted all the disenfranchised families with their homes, boats, nets, and supplies.

I have spent the last several days visiting with my good friend, Ramakrishna, the recently retired president of Larson and Toubro (L&T) engineering and construction division. L&T is far and away India’s largest engineering and construction firm, and Ramakrishna has offered his company’s support in our efforts. This is significant, as they will undoubtedly offer some wonderful input about the best ways to handle certain reconstruction efforts. The local representative from the company is going to tour the villages on Thursday with Jamal and conduct a complete assessment of the situation, while I meet with people from different relief agencies to try to garner some additional support for our initiative.

The first three families will receive their Life Packages (which include the Life Starter Kit--new homes, supplies, furniture, books, etc.; and Business Starter Kit--boats, motors, and nets) this weekend. I am very excited about this as it means that the strategy is starting to work. I am particularly grateful to the many people who have made generous contributions to IMGEERF and I will send back pictures so that everyone will be able to see how their help is already paying off in tangible ways. There are orders for another 17 Life Packages that are being placed today, so over the next week or so, many more families will be on the road to recovery. In fact, the families in these villages are very tight-knit, so they intend to share the boats and nets with others until every family gets their own. This means that we are getting some leveraged benefits from this strategy already.

By way of note, when Jamal and I first arrived at the villages last week, the first pictures we took were of one man and his tiny children who were standing on a pile of rubble that used to be their home. It turns out that this family is the first family that the village selected to receive the Life Kit package. Thank you all again for helping to make this possible.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Day 5: Frustration and Elation

The last several days in Delhi have been fascinating, but not altogether satisfying. I am learning more and more about the politics of aid, and the more I learn, the less I like. As with all crises, there are some groups that simply want to reap some benefits through profiteering. This is an unfortunate thing in many regards, not least of which is the fact that it starts a vicious circle. Just a few corrupt groups end up spoiling the welcome of many sincere, honest charities. The Indian officials become very cautious, and in turn they become reluctant to grant much autonomy to any of the aid organizations. The end result is that the aid process becomes quite cumbersome. In the current situation, the matter has become even more confusing due to the central government's desire to turn away all outside aid and handle the emergency aid process independently.

The politicization of aid is one of the reasons that the implementation of the Save the Family program has been so challenging--and why I am so happy that we are making such excellent progress towards that end. Hope's long-standing service in the villages in the south of India has helped them create good relations with both the local government officials and with the local villagers. Hope knows how to operate in the local context and they can effectively deliver on their promises. Working with Hope, I believe that the Save the Family program will successfully deliver a long term solution to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the lives of the people who have been disenfranchised. The government has been more focused on emergency-relief solutions such as temporary housing (rows of tiny hut-like structures) and temporary communal bathrooms, etc., so there are potential synergies between our respective efforts.

The first Life Packages, including the boats, nets and motors-will be given out on Friday. There are about twenty that have already been ordered, but over time we are hoping to sponsor hundreds of these packages; which will include a new boat, a motor, fishing nets, a little house, and two months of supplies, furniture, etc.

Our intention is to continue to supply these packages until our donations run out--or until all the needy have been placed in permanent dwellings and given the means to make a living. Our underlying premise is that all people have a right to adequate food, water, and shelter, and a life of dignity and self-respect. It is my hope that our collective efforts will at least place the people on the path of dignity.

Thank you so much for reading these, and for your feedback - your comments always find their way back to me, and they always give me a boost of energy.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

DAY 4: Finding Hope

I have been reflecting further on my travels through Tamil Nadu earlier in the week, and I am still finding it hard to verbalize some of my thoughts and feelings. Overall, I am suffering from sensory overload. In many ways the whole trip has been tough to comprehend. Aside from the overwhelming tragedy of the destruction, traveling around India is in and of itself a remarkable experience. Driving along her roads, one observes aspects of her culture that are very telling. Major highways are evidence of the great contrasts at work in this society, as they have trucks, cars, buses, bicyclists, rickshaws, cows, water buffalo, pedestrians (both the suit-wearing/ satellite-toting and the emaciated/dressed-in-diapers-like Gandhi kind), and the occasional pig, all vying for position. One can’t help but realize that old and new, rural and urban, rich and poor, etc. all combine to make up a wonderful collage. It becomes clear, quickly, that in India, the law of the jungle rules the roads--the biggest guy wins.

I have traveled to this country about thirty times, but even after all these visits I am still astonished by the sheer volume of people in India. Everywhere one goes there are just lots and lots of people. Privacy is a rare thing in this country and one really needs to cherish those moments of quiet stillness. This is probably the hardest thing for me to deal with when I am here. I need quiet space to do my thinking, and that is hard to come by in India, even in the more remote rural areas.

Yesterday I met a remarkable person -- Mark Templer, the CEO of the HOPE Foundation. Mark is a sincere man committed to serving others. I sensed a connection instantaneously and realized that Mark and I had a great deal of synergies. An MIT graduate, Mark first came to India in 1985 and was hooked. He loved the warmth and kindness of the Indian people and he was moved by the tremendous hardships so many of them face, so he established the HOPE Foundation, whose initial focus was to provide mobile health care units and leprosy rehabilitation programs in Delhi. Over the years, Mark’s operations have expanded to include many other initiatives.

I mention this because one of the first things I learned during this relief mission was the value and nature of Non-Governmental Organizations – NGO’s – in India. There are 227 NGO’s now registered to work in India. Of those, probably half are a complete scam, and of the remaining 50%, half of those will collect some money, have a photo-op, and be gone in a few weeks. . The few that remain have a staff of truly committed people who have both connected with the people and mastered the fine – and often infuriating – art of dealing with Indian bureaucrats. I also learned that because dealing with local government officials is so tricky (all of my government contacts are on a more regional/national level) it is a must to have a good NGO partner to be able to make a positive impact quickly and efficiently. In other words, a guy like me can’t do it alone – you need a partner who has been in the trenches for a while and who already has a team in place. I can provide the ammunition, but without soldiers in the field, the ammo is wasted.

The HOPE Foundation is the real deal (here’s where my background in doing due-diligence came in handy) and I’m happy to report that Mark and I have agreed to work as partners to make the Save the Family dream a reality. He and his fine team have the knowledge, dedication, and expertise to help get the homes built, the boats bought, the supplies sourced swiftly and smartly, and most of all, keep the red tape from slowing us down. In return, IMGE Emergency Relief Fund is committed to supporting Mark’s team in the provision of ongoing medical care in the afflicted villages.

My next journal entry will focus on the steps we’ve taken over the past few days to try to reach our goal of having the first three Save the Families dwellings up and occupied by this Friday, but for right now, I need to get some sleep and see if I can shake a nasty stomach bug that found its way to me. I know you share my prayer that we can help these communities regain lives of dignity and self-sufficiency as they try to heal from their losses.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Day 3: Save The Family

Last night I flew into Hyderabad to attend some governmental meetings. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t run into any bureaucratic logjams so I arranged a meeting with the Chief Minister to discuss our efforts and elicit his support. This gentleman was indeed very supportive and lauded our efforts, but most importantly, he assured me that our aid shipments would clear customs quickly and enter the country duty free. We have spread the word to other aid organizations in India and have offered to be the “duty police”, i.e., I’ll call my government contacts if anyone attempts to charge duty on their incoming relief supplies. Our first shipment is scheduled to arrive in Chennai on January 10, so I will head back down there to receive the supplies when the plane arrives. In the meanwhile, however, I will head to Delhi to try to garner full support for our efforts from the central government.

Prior to this trip I had no idea how many logistical challenges had to be addressed in order to effectively deliver aid, but fortunately my partners from AmeriCares and the Hope Foundation are remarkably experienced in this area. I have heard many horror stories about other relief organizations that sent medical supplies, food, and other materials without doing the proper groundwork and then finding their shipments never cleared customs. Extensive preparations also have to be made to create proper staging areas and delivery mechanisms. This may seem like unglamorous work, but it is essential to a well run relief mission.

In most natural disasters, the logistics of recovery are challenging, but the challenges in Nagapattinam and Cuddalore are extreme. I have read numerous reports from the Indian government that no aid is necessary and that the relief process is progressing well. I can assure you that much more can be done, because from what I saw – and I saw nearly all the afflicted areas – aside from the provision of food and water, the work is really just beginning. The conditions that these poor people – nearly all of whom are mourning a child or close loved one – are forced to live in shock me – but they also make me more committed to get things accomplished. First and foremost, the rubble must be cleaned up. Given the smell, there are surely hundreds – if not thousands – of dead people still to be uncovered. And how can one even talk about rebuilding, when the area is yards deep in garbage and rubble, much of which is too heavy to remove without machinery! Such a massive cleanup will require months of work by teams of professionals, so one of the things that I’m working on now is to develop a private sector initiative with the help of Indian construction companies, and generous families the world over to get the men and machines in to make this happen.

The absence of sanitary conditions makes the provision of safe housing and the delivery of safe medical care impossible. In India alone there are hundreds of thousands of people who are in desperate need of immediate care, so the failure to privatize the relief efforts will condemn these people to a life of permanent disease and/or disfigurement – if they even survive their ailments. (Yesterday I briefly described the “medical clinic” that had 2,000 people jammed into 2,000 square feet, with no toilets or water, and basically just band-aids as “medical” care. What I didn’t mention is that many of these people are in real pain, with serious injuries that would put most of us flat on our backs. And so many of the injured were little children, who had nothing to ease their pain--and in many cases, nobody to even give them a hug.) It is not enough to drop off bags of wheat and rice, and offer some rupees to the relatives of the orphans. The general clean-up of the villages must be accelerated so that the survivors have the opportunity to heal and reclaim some normalcy in their lives. In brief, we must find a way to save these families.

Save the Family

To “save the families” the long-term goals are actually quite easy to identify. First, we must ensure that every affected family in the afflicted villages of Nagapattinam and Cuddalore gets adequate shelter, medical care, food, and water until they can go back to a proper home. Sanitary conditions must be established. And since most of these people earned their living through fishing – and virtually all of their boats and equipment were destroyed – we must quickly give them the tools to again support themselves and their families. Every single person that I spoke to was adamant that they didn’t want a handout – they just wanted to live in a home with their families, cook their own food, pray in peace, and mourn their loved ones in a setting other than a teeming, stinking temporary refugee shelter.

My mission is clear: We must give them the means to fish, not just give them fish. From this simple concept, the “Save the Family” program was born.
The basic thrust of Save the Family is to identify one family at a time, and fast-track that family on a path to self-sufficiency and dignity. Each selected family will receive the following:

1. A thatched roof hut

2. A ”life starter kit”, which includes cooking utensils, stove, food and supplies for two months, furniture, bedding, children’s books, school uniforms, clothes, etc.)

3. Fishing net and other equipment

4. Boat

5. Engine for boat

The cost of the total package is only $5,500. This means that a contribution of $5,500 provides a homeless, destitute, bereaved family with a viable means of earning a living a fresh start on life. We can’t ease their pain or reverse their loss, but we can provide families a chance to once again live a life of self-sufficiency and dignity. We have begun sourcing the necessary materials and feel we will be ready to start setting up the “homes” as soon as the rubble is cleared away. And the more money we raise, the more families we’ll be able to save.

I’ve got some ideas about how to raise funds for “Save the Family” both in the US and in India, and I’ll share them with you as soon as they are more fully developed. In closing, I thank all of you who have given such wonderful support, and I hope you will keep these pour souls in your hearts. We must do what we can to alleviate their suffering, which only worsens as they more fully comprehend the enormity of their loss.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

DAY 2: Darkness at Noon

I woke up this morning around 1am, completely alert. This was very unusual as I am typically a very sound sleeper--but not today. I was still struggling to grasp the magnitude of what I had experienced the first day, and I was nervous about what I would see when I went to visit Nagapattinam at 6am.

I stayed up through the night, reading, thinking and writing about yesterday’s brief visit to the coastal villages. Finally at 5am I went for a five mile run. I thought the movement would clear my head a bit. The run was fine, although I confess it was a little annoying when I found that the local hotel didn’t have any hot water. The fact of the matter is, however, that I was more concerned about the cleanliness of the water than its cold temperature while I showered.

We started out for the village on time—a rare event for me which can only be attributed to the anxiety I was experiencing—and despite the early hour everyone initially seemed to be in pretty good spirits. Our moods quickly changed as we approached the village, and I actually grew ill when we reached our destination. I had never seen anything like it, and frankly, I’m not sure I ever want to see something like it again. Everywhere I looked I saw signs of death and destruction. I had been transported into a horrible dream and I couldn’t wake up. Large boats were tossed asunder, with some resting on top of what used to be houses. Overall I had the impression that I was viewing a massive maritime graveyard. Houses were decimated and practically the only sign of life was the occasional goat that was foraging for food. What really struck me though was the horrible, piercing stench—the noxious smell of death emanating from the rotting bodies that lay hidden beneath the rubble.

I only spoke with several people in the village. Their general sense of despair was very intense as they seemed listless, quiet, and enervated. Their eyes had sad, tormented looks. Some of the men were rustling through the debris looking for pictures or mementos that reminded them of a life of normalcy. I found that watching these men poke around in the debris was a heart-wrenching metaphor of what their lives had become

This once prosperous village of thirty to forty thousand had been totally leveled. Eight thousand of her citizens were dead or missing, and many thousands more were seriously injured. Medical treatment presented a daunting challenge as the local hospitals were packed with dead bodies. The limited available medical care was largely provided by my friend Ashok and his team of workers at a makeshift clinic in a wedding hall. Unfortunately the hall also serves as the refugee camp and it had thousands of people crammed into its total space of about two thousand square feet.

The sanitary conditions of the hall were disastrous. There was inadequate clean water, and the medical supplies were nearly depleted. To make matters worse, the inhabitants used the front steps of the building as a latrine, effectively guaranteeing the spread of disease and sickness. There was one man who stood near the step constantly spraying chlorine to combat the fecal horror show. Andrew, from Americares, told me that he wasn’t prepared for what he saw—that these were the worst conditions he had ever seen, and he had worked through many tragedies and natural disasters.

The ride back to Chennai from Nagapattinam was very quiet. The total trip lasted about seven hours, but no one felt like talking. I think that everyone was so shattered by the visit that our friendly banter disappeared. We even stopped making jokes about our insane driver who apparently misconstrued our relief mission for a suicide mission. I have never spent so much time on the wrong side of the road, going so fast, with so many huge vehicles bearing down on me. Poor Jamal got the front seat. At first it seemed like a lucky thing for him because it was a little tight in the back, but I quickly realized that the relative security of the back seat was far more valuable than the extra shoulder room. I was too selfish to offer a trade with Jamal, but he endured the drive pretty well.

When Jamal gets upset he tends to get philosophical, and this was no exception. He noted that his children were grown and he had lived a rich and full life. He expressed some concern for our as yet unfinished lives, but I couldn’t tell if he was just being polite. He did make it clear, however, that he didn’t really want to end up flattened against the windshield due to our driver’s relentless efforts to pass cars, buses and trucks whether or not there was an opening for him to do so safely.

The sense I got sitting in the car was that each of realized that we had not only seen a human tragedy beyond comprehension, but that this tragedy would persist unless we could miraculously do something about it. We saw very limited signs of organized help. For example, there were no tents or temporary staging areas for the homeless, the sick and the injured. In fact, we had the horrible dread that nothing was going to be done to re-build this village.

As I get ready for a series of meetings with various government officials, I offer my prayers that somehow we can galvanize enough support to truly make a huge difference in these people’s lives. None of us want to simply administer some bandages and then go home, with guilt assuaged and conscience soothed. I believe that my friends who have shared this brief visit with me will all feel fully charged with the challenge of carrying this mission through to the end. I pray I have the strength to do so. It won’t be easy.

Monday, January 03, 2005

DAY 1: Arrival

I left the hotel in Chennai early this morning to get a first hand look at the coastal villages that were hit by the Tsunami. My travel companions were Jamal (IMG), Andrew (Americares), and Ashok (The Hope Foundation). I had seen the BBC footage of some fishing villages that were destroyed, so I was partially prepared for the visual impact of the visit...but nothing could have prepared me for the overall experience.

We drove along the coast for a few hours before stopping at a small village that was essentially wiped out last Sunday. The scene had the look and feel of a bombed out war zone, with piles of rubble strewn for hundreds of meters along the shoreline where small houses used to stand. Interspersed among the rubble were shattered boats and hopelessly tangled nets. In some cases, fiberglass boats were actually split in half.

It was clear that the surviving villagers wanted to tell us their story and share their grief, and it was also clear they were desperately hoping that someone could help them make sense of the total loss they had experienced. In just a few horrible minutes their peaceful life had been smashed apart with instantaneous loss of family, friends, home, and livelihood. The sea, the provider of their sustenance for so many generations, had now become the destroyer.

Andrew and Ashok were veterans of this type of loss, I wasn't. Andrew had worked on relief missions in Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and once before in India--after the terrible earthquake in Gujarat. Ashok worked with lepers, HIV patients, and other individuals who need enormous love and compassion. I had never experienced anything like this and I felt part of my inner emotional system shutting down, running for safety.

The little faces of orphaned children looking up at me with so much suffering and so much despair brought me back to reality very quickly. I needed to understand better what was necessary and what I could do. The survivors were terribly afraid of the water, but they only knew the life of the sea. They had no money and they had nowhere to go. The suddenness of their loss had given them no time to adjust and it overwhelmed them with a terrible sense of hopelessness.

A number of the people had crude bandages covering their wounds. The wounds were clearly not healing well as I could see a great deal of seepage through the bandages. Sanitation is essentially absent and the population was living bunched together in one large mass, so I had a chance to witness the perfect breeding ground for disease. The warm weather, open wounds, inadequate water supplies, and the lack of shelter pointed out the absolute necessity of the medical shipments that are under way.

Ashok and his team are establishing medical clinics for tens of thousands of people, and he works tirelessly. I marveled at his attitude, which was both clinical and compassionate. He and I discussed at length the post-traumatic counseling that will have to be layered into the medical treatment.

I was amazed to learn that there might be problems with our medical relief shipments getting waivers from import duty. Fortunately my governmental friends intervened on our behalf so the first 100,000-pound shipment--and our subsequent shipments--will come in duty free.

The rehabilitative phase of this crisis is going to require enormous support, but it is essential to give these people the opportunity to reclaim some normalcy in their lives. The villagers don't want unending charity--they want their lives back. They want basic shelter and food, and they want boats and fishing nets so they can become self-sufficient. Amazingly we will be able to provide these basic essentials for 4,000 dollars. This means that we can essentially give each family a life of dignity for a very modest amount of money. My bet is that the fishermen will conquer their fear of the water and take control of their lives if we give them the opportunity of self-sufficiency.

We continued along the coast and visited other villages. Each one had its own tale of death, of sadness, and of depression. In one village there was a false warning two days ago of another Tsunami that was coming, and the people ran in two directions: half of them ran for safety away from the sea, the other half ran to the water's edge and sat down--waiting to be swept away to their deaths. They had resigned themselves to this hopeless fate and they remain stuck in this condition.

Tomorrow morning I am going to Nagapattinam at 6am. This area was the hardest hit and I am a little nervous about the visit. I will share my impressions tomorrow evening.

I want to thank all of you for you hard work and coordination efforts. It is a worthy cause. I hope we can bring a bit of light back into these people's lives. May God make our path clear.