A natural disaster is hard even in wealthy societies, but when life is a daily struggle even during the good times, a disaster like a cyclone can truly be devastating. Immediately after Cyclone Gaja hit the southern tip of India, Martin and other volunteers appealed to water companies and vendors in the marketplace to supply water and food for the affected families. With funding from Global Pearls, he next provided tarps and sleeping mats, food staples and cooking stoves, to help those who had lost everything they owned in the storm. Once the immediate crisis subsided, he chose a few women who were in some of the hardest situations to receive animals – cows or goats, their choice – to help them get back on their feet long term.

One of the hardest hit villages was a fishing village on the southeast coast. We had a delightful time taking teddy bears to the children and discussing village needs with the adults. With so many boats and nets damaged and destroyed by the cyclone, the consensus was that new fishing nets would provide the greatest help, because then they could generate the income to slowly repair the rest of their lives. They even took us out on one of their fishing boats where we enjoyed the cool breeze on the Indian Ocean while watching the sun set!

The most charming part of our visit was being taken through the village by the children and hearing their stories of the storm. The stories were sad, and the rubble that remained of the affected houses told a devastating tale, yet the vibrant energy of these children was so inspiring! I have pieced together their tales into a short video so you can experience Cyclone Gaja through the eyes of the children. Watch Here.