The Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 struck the South-East Coast of India at a point just 15 miles away from Bethel Children’s Home in Chennai. At that time, India Direct Founders Dave and Karen Armstrong were visiting the LCCT projects and witnessed the aftermath of the disaster. They witnessed first-hand the devastating effect it had on people’s lives, especially further south along the coast in the hardest-hit fishing villages, such as Tharangambadi, near Poraiyar.
When Dave and Karen encountered newly orphaned and homeless children, they realised that the charity had the expertise to help. With the full support of local people and funds raised through appeals by India Direct in the UK, emergency shelter, food, clothing and medical care was provided for more than 100 children in a small rented house in Poraiyar village. It was then necessary to raise funds to pay for housing, childcare and schooling costs, and to look for a longer-term solution.
Most of the children would need long-term care, as surviving families had no means to look after them. Thanks to the incredible generosity from many of our supporters, we were able to start work on building a second children’s home in Poraiyar. Keeping the home just a few miles inland from where the Tsunami had struck enabled us to maintain family bonds and allow everyone to see that their children were being properly cared for.
After 3 long years of fundraising and building work, the children moved from their overcrowded rented house into a spacious new home, which was given the name ‘Joy’ by local villagers. In 2013 we opened a second building at Joy for the boys to live in to comply with recent government legislation requiring girls and boys to be housed separately. Many of the children affected by the Tsunami have been returned safely to their families, their places being filled by other needy local children on our waiting list.
Following the purchase of a female cow Paul (“milk” in tamil) and her calf PIP (Poynton India Project) the home now has around 5 cows providing milk, a large vegetable patch providing vegetables for the children and a brood of chickens. We aim to increase the self-sufficiency of the home in order to reduce the need for large donations and allow us to take more children from our current waiting list.
However, our two homes require nearly £6000 worth of annual maintenance, renovations and utility bills each year. We need your help to fund this maintenance through additional donations, fundraising and sponsorship.