On the 4th of August we left for Raa atoll Hulhudhufaaru, traveling by speed boat, dhoni and one rowing boat we were received by the head master of the school with warmth. Our first meeting with the tsunami victims was in the homes that had been temporarily erected for them some months past. The conditions were far better than those on Hulhumale shelters, but still not home for these people. Many also living with island people within their homes which is also creating further problems for them.
The tsunami victims were warm and received us as friends. We were overwhelmed by the way; they were honest with us and happy to share their experiences. We had a long talk via a translator (Maldives Aid volunteer) and we were both left quite emotional.
The distribution of the happy buckets was well organized by the headmaster and felt almost like a holiday atmosphere. Children arrived in school uniform (even though it was Friday and a school holiday) and sat in classrooms until the mothers arrived in their best clothes. Teachers then called the children out three at a time in families over the PA system, with their mothers to receive the buckets. This is what we had come to do. To give gifts from English children to the children affected by tsunami, no ties no hidden morals just pure love and friendship.
Later we went back to see them in their shelters after they had opened the buckets. We found children cuddling soft toys and groups of children gathering around reading books and playing with toys. It was a wonderful sight.
This was a far different feeling when we saw the island that they had lived on when the tsunami hit. Beautiful homes and a complete community wiped out. Homes washed away. Children’s clothing and toys all over the place. Personal effects left where the water had placed them. It was something we needed to see to fully understand what these had lived through.
Now the island people are displaced in various locations, families split, little or no money and lacking in resources. These are people who have lived through an awful experience and still the trauma continues and sadly this is not the only island.
We are glad to have had this chance to help even if it’s in a small way. But these people need more help and now.
By: Denise and Ozy
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