On December 26th, 2004, the south-east coast of India was hit by a killer tsunami. The massive waves, which were said to have been higher than the tops of the palm trees, took many people living in the costal areas completely by surprise and caused the loss of an estimated 18,000 lives in India.
Of the countless people who were affected by the disaster, many of them were desperately poor families living in small fishing villages in areas where Save A Family Plan (SAFP) works. Those left behind faced problems such as the loss of their homes, the destruction of fishing boats and other income generating property, and the death of family members, sometimes including the main breadwinner of the family.
After witnessing the situations of these families as they struggled to recover from the disaster, SAFP recognized the importance of assisting them in the long-term and helping them to rebuild their lives in a sustainable way. Thanks to the support of many generous contributors, we were able to assist 500 affected families through our Family Development Program. Since then, the families have worked very hard with SAFP’s support to move beyond meeting their basic needs. Many have secured new homes, learned new skills, started income generation projects, educated their children, and saved money for their family’s future. We are overjoyed to say that all 500 families have successfully completed the program and have now moved on to be self-supporting!
We would like to share with you the story of Mr. Soosai and Mrs. A. Pushpam, an elderly couple in Tamil Nadu. Their daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter were all lost in the tsunami, which was an incredible shock and left them as the guardians of their one remaining grandson, nine-year-old Anthony Praveen. This presented a major challenge for Soosai, who was already struggling to make ends meet for himself and his wife on the meager $20 he earned each month as a daily wage labourer.
Despite the terrible grief he suffered, Soosai was determined to support his family and ensure that his grandson, Anthony Praveen, was able to attend school. His old age made it very difficult for him to go out to work, so he had the idea of opening a petty shop (a small variety store) in order to earn an income.
By participating in SAFP’s Family Development Program, Soosai has been able to open and run his shop right from his home with great success. He earns around $125 a month, which allows him to support his family and educate Anthony Praveen, who is now studying in the 9th standard (Grade 9). All of them are healthy and living in a secure home. Thanks to the support they received, Soosai, Pushpam, and Anthony Praveen were able to find the courage and hope to move forward and rebuild their lives in a positive way.
It is with immense gratitude that we recognize all the contributors who responded with such generosity after the tsunami and contributed to the support of these families. The success these families have achieved after just 6 years reminds us of the incredible change that is possible when we partner with the poor.