Blog - Tsunamika - A Living Symbol of Resilience

A living symbol
by Manoj
She is a symbol, a living symbol with her own life.
As her name suggests, she is a child of tsunami;
The tsunami that changed the lives of millions.
She is the memory of Tsunami..
She has been hand-made by women,
The women who live by the ocean,
The women whose lives changed forever after the tsunami
The women who are exploring a new way of living,
The women who are empowering themselves.
Tsunamika is an expression of their creative fire;
Through Tsunamika they enter a new & wider world.
She is made out of bits and pieces of cloth
Left over from other works;
Made from what is known as waste.
There is nothing called waste in Nature,
Everything has its creative role.
Everything can be living & beautiful,
As Tsunamika is ...

The Tsunamika project began shortly after the Tsunami on the morning of 23rd Dec 2004, which struck the southern coast of India and several South East Asian countries. In India the greatest damage was done to the fishing communities. The men had left early to harvest the oceans and the women busy with their home chores. In front of their meagre dwellings along the coast their children were playing. In one stroke the killer waves wiped out everything. The surviving women folk had lost their boats, their nets, their husbands their children.

Aid of all kinds flowed in, but nothing to quell the magnitude of the trauma of the shattered women. In response, Upasana Design Studio of Auroville conceived a project named Tsunamika. The primary aim was to help them overcome the trauma by getting them involved in some creative handicraft to channelize their energy. About 500 women from the coastal villages were given handicraft training to make these tiny dolls. Fashioned out of waste fabric from the several cotton mills she was named Tsunamika (Born of the Tsunami)

These unlettered rough poor fisherwomen who led hardy lives had never held a sewing needle in their hands - creativity had passed them by. With tears in their eyes and sadness in their heart-they were doing fine work. Slowly they mastered the dolls and sadness was replaced by a sense of pride and dignity at last they were creating something at last they were earning their own money.

In 18 months, the women had produced more than 800,000, some of them had themselves become trainers, or leaders of groups and together they shared a bonding like never before. A gift economy was the fallout - and donations towards this project helped pay for each doll the women made - giving them a livelihood.

Tsunamika reached more than 50 countries through volunteers, and other gift products using Tsunamika evolved. So satisfied were the women with this healing touch of Tsunamika, that in 2011- when the Tsunami devastated Japan - these coastal fisherwomen sent thousands of Tsunamikas to the women survivors of the new tragedy. This time they provided the healing touch with this living symbol./p>