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Published in the 16-30 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

AFMI delegation's visit to tsunami affected areas

By Ayub Khan

The Milli Gazette Online 

Chennai: There are times when man is just awe struck with the wrath of nature and for all his sophistication and mastery is rendered helpless. One such instance was the Tsunami waves that caused so much devastation words are not enough to describe the pain and suffering brought by it. 

AFMI Team visiting tsunami hit area in Chennai

AFMI Team visiting tsunami hit area in Chennai

On January 6th and 7th as part of a four member delegation of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin I visited the affected areas in and around Chennai. We were not there as "disaster tourists" which is unfortunately becoming common these days. Neither were we there for photo ops and savvy public relations exercise. We were there to assess the enormity of the damage and do our part in the rebuilding effort. 

We just caught a glimpse of the colossal disaster in the two days that we were there. 

On the first day we were escorted by a team of dedicated volunteers from the Tamil Nadu Relief Committee of the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind’s Tamil Nadu zone. Their selflessness, devotion and commitment to serve all victims without any discrimination on the basis of religion, caste or any other boundaries are exemplary.

We first visited Vettuvankeni located just on the outskirts of Chennai. The area consisting of Chunandikuppam and Palltheu fishing villages is inhabited by 400 families. Even though there were no deaths there is widespread devastation all around. 

The scope of destruction increased as we traveled away from Chennai. In the town of Thirrupori , 2 adults and 2 children died. 2500 residents were camped in a relief camp.

In Sadras village we met malnourished children who looked younger than their actual. Hussain, 15, came to talk to us as we approached the village. He said he saw the waves as they lashed against the walls of surrounding houses and described how an old couple was washed away. 

On the second day AFMI delegation also visited Cuddalore and Nagapatinam which were the hardest hit towns in Tamil Nadu. Cuddalore is the town which was also in the news as the town’s Muslims had opened up their Masjid for all people irrespective of their faith. The Tamil Nadu Relief Committee is providing exceptional relief work here taking care of over 10,000survivors. 

In another village we visited a tiny mosque which has been partially damaged. The villagers have moved further inland and do not want to come back to the site of their old homes. This incident underscores the need for a massive rebuilding effort which should be undertaken on war footing to rehabilitate the victims. 

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