The large scale devastation caused by the 2004 Tsunami in South Asia, including parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands across the Indian coastline, had shaken the whole world. The disaster affected 2.79 million people and caused more than 10,000 deaths, besides loss of property and livelihood for lakhs of people.
Smile Foundation reacted immediately to the emergency situation, joining forces with the government and local agencies for relief operations in and around Chennai. A need assessment survey was conducted and subsequently items of immediate need including vessels, utensils and ready-to-eat food items were distributed to the victims living in shelter homes.
As soon as the rescue and immediate relief phases of the project were over, Smile Foundation, realizing the need for rehabilitation of the victims, adopted a sustainable approach focused on education for children, vocational and disaster management training for youth and support for the disabled.
Many children had discontinued education after the disaster – some had lost their parents, others could not afford school; school buildings were destroyed, while some had lost their books, uniforms and other essential materials. The educational intervention was aimed at putting these children back on the track by facilitating their primary and higher education, counselling them, reconstructing school buildings and distributing teaching learning material, uniforms, shoes and bags in the villages Muttukadu Kuppam, Pattinapakkam Srinivasapuram, Thiruvanmiyur Kuppam and Kottivakkam Kuppam.
Smile Foundation joined hands with the Indian Social Service Institute (ISSI), a local NGO based at Thiruvarangulam District, Tamil Nadu, to conduct a Vocational Skill and Disaster Management Training Programme with the aim to promote alternative employment opportunities and develop disaster management skills among the youth of tsunami affected villages.
The programme benefitted youth and women from Anayanthoapu and surrounding coastal villages of Kameshwaram Panchayat in the Nagapattinam district, training them in five core areas – diesel engine and boat repair and maintenance; fishnet knitting and repair; solar fish processing; T.V. and radio repair and coir rope making.
Realizing the vulnerable situation of the specially abled, Smile Foundation partnered with Ajay Memorial Foundation (AMF), a local NGO in Chennai, to provide Aids and Appliances to those specially abled, mainly in Thiruvallur, Nagercoil and Chennai, who had lost their aids in the Tsunami catastrophe, after identifying the beneficiaries & ascertaining the type of appliances required by them. Tricycles, wheel chairs, Bilateral PP Hip Knee Ankle foot orthoses with shoes, crutches, Above Elbow Prosthesis, Bilateral PTB Prosthesis and CTEV boots, were some of the aids distributed.