News Update: February 2009
||Long Term Tsunami Relief Projects
• 6,200 homes in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands were completed as of October 2008.
• In Sri Lanka, 96 homes were completed.
• Provision of pensions for widows in two villages in Tamil Nadu and in the area around the Amritapuri Ashram.
• In Tamil Nadu, MAM donated 600 fishing boats, engines and fishing nets. In Kerala, MAM donated 100 boats, engines and nets. The approximate cost for this was $1 million US (Rs. 4.3 crores). On average each boat supports seven families.
• The provision of free education and vocational training to more than 2,500 young people including:
Medical Help for Bereaved Mothers
- 800 nursing assistants trained at AIMS
- 1,000 automobile drivers and security guards trained at MAM’s
vocational training centre
- Seven women trained as teachers at the Amrita School of
Education in Mysore
- Hundreds of women trained in tailoring, candle-making and
Some of the mothers who lost their children in the tsunami had previously undergone tubal-ligation as a form of permanent contraception. With the shock of their irrevocable loss, some became depressed, even suicidal. Amma offered such women the opportunity to undergo fallopian-tube recanalisation to reverse their sterilization surgeries. Six women underwent the procedure at AIMS Hospital. MAM covered all the expenses. As of October 2008, all six mothers had given birth, three of whom had twins.
When the tsunami struck
When the tsunami struck Amritapuri and the neighbouring coastal villages on 26 December, 2004, Amma’s Ashram became the centre of relief operations. More than 140 people were killed in the immediate area, and countless houses were destroyed. It was Amma herself who waded through the water, directing the evacuation of over 20,000 people at the Ashram at the time. She sent her disciples out into the flooded village to rescue people and search for the injured and dying.
Amma deployed ambulances, doctors and medical supplies from her AIMS Hospital to the devastated areas on both India’s east and west coasts and immediately began supplying food, clothing and shelter to tens of thousands. The morning after, she visited relief camps set up at Amrita University, consoling the families and sharing their immense grief. A few days later, the Ashram assisted the grief-stricken community with the mass cremation of its loved ones and brought together thousands to pray for the deceased and the bereaved.
Within a week of the tragedy, construction of temporary shelters for the homeless began on Ashram land. Nine shelters, complete with electricity, ceiling fans and separate bathrooms, were built within a few weeks, housing 250 families. In Alappad, Kerala and Samanthampettai, Tamil Nadu, the Ashram provided shelter for 550 families. The Ashram
connected its temporary shelters with the AIMS Hospital and the Amritapuri Ashram hospital via a telemedicine satellite link.
Amma’s Ashram on behalf of Healthcare Charities, Inc., U.S.A.
(an initiative of Amma's devotees),
pledged one billion rupees, $23 million U.S., in tsunami relief aid. It proposed to rebuild all the homes that were completely destroyed by the tsunami in Kerala, as well as take up reconstruction in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The Ashram distributed 15 million rupees, $350,467 U.S., to families in the Kerala districts of Kollam, Ernakulam and Alappuzha for buying cooking vessels, and provided them with counselling, education and homes for orphaned children.
After meeting with the President of Sri Lanka, Amma, on behalf of Healthcare Charities, Inc., U.S.A., offered 30 million Indian rupees, $685,000 U.S., for relief work, including the construction of hundreds of homes.
On 18th December 2005 the President of India visited Amritapuri to hand over 500 tsunami houses constructed by M.A. Math.
Amma announced at a press conference held in September 2005 that so far the Ashram has completed 1,200 of the 6,200 tsunami-relief houses it has undertaken to construct throughout India and Sri Lanka.
Mata Amritanandamayi Math to Construct Houses
for Tsunami Victims in Andaman & Nicobar Islands - 10 April 2006
Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) is constructing 100 houses at a total cost of Rs. five crores at Bambooflat in South Andaman. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect has been signed between the MAM and Andaman & Nicobar administration authorities. It is to be noted that the MAM is the first NGO to make an offer to construct permanent houses on the islands.
As of October 2006 the current number of completed houses stands at over 4000.
Life Blooms Anew in Tsunami Victims
Some of the mothers in the villages around Amritapuri who lost children in the 2004 tsunami had previously undergone tubal ligation as a form of permanent contraception. When Amma learned that these women lost their young children and could no longer conceive, and that they were in such despair to the point of considering suicide, her heart went out to them. After consulting with doctors at AIMS, Amma offered all such villagers an opportunity to undergo fallopian-tube recanalisation in order to reverse the effects of their sterilization surgery.
Ashram Tsunami Documentary Wins Award
29th October 2006 -- Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA
"The Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s documentary "Pray & Serve: Amma’s Response to the Tsunami" won the Filmmaker’s Award at the prestigious Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in Arkansas, USA...The audience... was visibly moved by the film’s portrayal of Amma’s compassionate response to the infamous disaster."
100 more houses are ready in Pondicherry.
28 December 2006, Karaikkal, Pondichery
The President of India Inaugurates Amrita Setu
20 December 2006 — Amritapuri
The President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, came to Amritapuri in order to inaugurate Amrita Setu, the bridge the Ashram has constructed connecting the island of Alappad Panchayat to Vallikkavu. The bridge was constructed with the aim of providing a centralized escape route via which 15,000 people could evacuate in 30 minutes should Alappad face another natural disaster in the future.
M.A. Centre joins with International Labour Organization to Implement Alternative Livelihood Program
5th December 2006--Allapad
"Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) took part in a meeting with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Alappad Panchayat today. The meeting was aimed at rapid community assessment for the implementation of ILO's Alternative Livelihood Program. Mr. Slava, the senior consultant of ILO from Geneva, addressed the gathering . The implementation of ALP in Alappad is part of the long-term tsunami-rehabilitation work taking place in the community."
Tele-Fisheries and Tsunami Alert System Launched in Alappad, Kerala
14 January 2007
" Amrita ISRO Village Resource Center (VCR) programs are bringing Tele-Education, Tele-Agriculture and Tele-Medicine knowledge to the local communities. Aside from these online programs, there are a number of off-line programs, including skill training, eco-development, capacity building programs, debates and seminars... Since the VCR inception in July 2005, 70 such online and offline programs have been organised in various sectors with 11,050 people participating."