Story of Yalini and ponnan
How two sisters over came the impact of tsunami
It is the last house in the village, isolated and remote; as the unrelenting afternoon sun forces both adults and children to scramble inside, two sisters—18 years apart—share their bonds of love, loss and longing. For a future they both dream for each other.
32 year-old Yalini’s neatly-tiled home in Kayankerny is a safe haven for the entire extended family of brothers, sisters and several children--the biggest asset in this story of recovery and transformation.
“On that fateful day a decade ago, my mother and my aunt had gone to the sea shore for sand quarrying work. Around 8 am I heard people screaming and running away from the sea; very soon the water rushed forth and I saw my mother being swept away by the swirling water…” says Yalini, breaking down and crying inconsolably for several minutes. Her mother’s dead body was found after 17 days; her fisherman father who was away at sea, returned only after the funeral was over. (He subsequently remarried and deserted his children).
“We were taken to a temporary shelter at first where we got meals and our children got education”, recalls Yalini. “Later SOS gave us this house, started a Tsunami social center with tuition classes and free meals; distributed books, stationery and bags to our children. SOS helped us for the entire ten years—that is why even though we lost our properties in the Tsunami we were able to make a recovery. Today my brothers are all grown up and doing well and we all only want our little sister to study hard with whatever help SOS gives her and do well in future”, says Yalini emotionally.
Yalini’s baby sister Ponnan who was just four years old when their mother died, has no recollections of the Tsunami or of her mother; her sister is her entire world.
Ponnan begins a tearful tribute to her protective sister, “Whatever I have learnt today and whatever I am, is due to my sister, she has brought me up single-handedly. I want to study hard and make her proud of me. Using my education, I want to earn a lot of money and give it to my family. I also want to help other people who need assistance the way we need aid now” she declares.
Ponnan was a ‘miracle baby’ according to Yalini, burnt and deformed when she was barely a month old; she was later operated upon post-Tsunami and today does well in school, with ambitions of wanting to become a teacher some day.
“Evening classes helped me and other children improve our grades. We also got free meals earlier and school materials from SOS,” says Ponnan before running off to join her friends at the community center.
In minutes another transformation takes place—the somber, sensitive sister now jostles and laughs with her play-mates in carefree abandon, her childhood restored to her.