The spirit at the Tamaraikulam Elders Village is one of triumph after life-changing adversity
It has been ten years since the Tamaraikulam Elders Village in Cuddalore took in its first resident. Since then, the home has looked after over 300 senior citizens who were left destitute after the devastating tsunami of December 2004. The home was set up largely with contributions from NDTV
viewers who wanted to reach out and help.
On Tuesday, the village held a day-long celebration of that very special decade. Senior citizens from the home and from nearby tsunami-affected villages sang and danced as if they didn't have a care in the world - despite being survivors of the devastating tsunami in which they lost their family members, homes and livelihoods.
Among the performers on the stage was Sunderpal. This former fishermen spends his days now in the Elders Village. But memories of that December day are still clear. He told NDTV, "I had just come back from fishing in the morning. I was working on the nets and then the tsunami hit. I saw a man running with a child - the child was washed away and died. When I reached the place where I was staying with my niece - everybody had run away. Nobody looked out for me, nobody helped me."
Sunderpal was spotted by a team from Helpage India and after he struggled to exist for two years, he found a home in the village and has lived there through the ten years of its existence.
Dr S Sathiyababu, Deputy Director, Helpage India, has known Sunderpal since those early years. He has been working at the village right from the start. He told NDTV, "Working here, I feel I have found the purpose of my life. They consider me their son and I feel blessed."
It has been a long journey, from the start of the Elders Village. And even more challenging has been sustaining the care - along with physical, mental and emotional engagement - of the tsunami survivors.
Mathew Cherian, CEO, Helpage India sat by the lotus pond which gives Tamaraikulam its name and said, "The elders do much of the work at the Village. They have yoga, walks and remain physically and mentally active. This has been a sustained effort and there are contributions coming in that keep it alive."
From despair to hope - and happiness. The spirit at the Tamaraikulam Elders Village is one of triumph after life-changing adversity. And this change is largely due to the contributions of viewers of NDTV - who wanted to make a difference.
Thank you to all of those who contributed to make the Tamaraikulam Elders Village a reality - a reality that changes the lives of hundreds for the better.