Girl doing the laundry
It has been over five years now since the devastating tsunami hit Indonesia and South-East Asia on Boxing Day in 2004. After the Emergency Relief Effort finished, SOS Children remained, and still do to this day. This is a story about how one particular girls life was changed dramatically by the tsunami:
"My little sister was sitting alone on the beach reading a book when the tsunami struck. She was very tall and very fast, but she was the first victim. Everyone in the village ran out of their houses in a panic, there was a loud noise, and suddenly the waves were in our village. Everyone tried to escape from the tsunami; my mother and my little brother didn't manage. They both died because they ran in the wrong direction and were swallowed up by the waves. I was able to save myself, but I was left all alone ," told 14-year-old Vanitha.
At the time, Vanitha was just nine years old. She found her father a few days later in a hastily built emergency shelter. Both of them had lost absolutely everything - the tsunami had not only taken their loved ones, but also all their belongings. That's where the SOS emergency aid programme came in.
Ravi Vasanthan, 40 years old, said: "SOS gave us boats with motors and nets and quickly after that, we were able to make a living from fishing." The village community of Akkampettai in the South of India received 24 boats in total. Just one boat can provide a living for four families. In order to prevent a repeat of the tsunami disaster, all fishing villages must now be relocated at least 500 metres inland. As part of the SOS emergency aid and reconstruction programme, the new fishing village of Akkampettai was built. It has one hundred houses and a community centre.
Vanitha is travelling with her father to her new home. Thanks to the generous tsunami donations, they both have a new existence, a new home and now a new family, too. Vanitha's father remarried, and now she has siblings again: "This is the house that SOS built for us after the tsunami. I'm happy that I live here. Our old fishing hut was just covered with palm leaves. Now, we have a solid roof over our heads. I like playing with my little sister and my little brother here, and I love them both very much."
In this safe and secure environment, Vanitha finds learning easy: "I like learning and would like to be a doctor one day, then I can help ill people." She shows us how good a pupil she is on the very same day when she wins first prize in a language competition for pupils from all the fishing villages in the area.