Remembering the South Asian Tsunami

Four years ago today 230,000 people lost their lives in the world’s worst ever natural disaster. This is a staggering number, behind which are hundreds of thousands of individual tragedies. The Associated Press tells one story of a Sri Lankan man who is struggling to rebuild his life, post-Tsunami.

Every morning and evening, Velmurugu Kangasuriyam gathers his 2 1/2 year-old daughter and his wife and confronts the wreckage of his former life.

His wife, Thaya, lights an oil lamp on the mantle of a dark, bare concrete room. Kangasuriyam presses his hands together and closes his eyes. Little Theresa follows in imitation. For a long minute his new family stands in silent prayer.

Thaya places orange flowers in front of pictures of Hindu gods. She lays several more before a picture of Kangasuriyam’s parents.

The last flowers sit in front of a photo of a woman in a striking red bridal sari: Devi, who was Kangasuriyam’s wife for just 10 months before she died, along with his parents, three of his sisters and a brother, four years ago Friday.

The tsunami that crashed over south Asia on Dec. 26, 2004 and killed 230,000 people washed away nearly everything Kangasuriyam held dear. Sixteen close relatives were killed. His seaside village was razed, his house demolished, his business destroyed.

Four years later, with international aid and prodding from his remaining family, the 30-year-old has rebuilt his life. He has a new family. He has a bigger house in a resettlement village set back from the ocean.

He opened a new bicycle repair shop to replace the one where he worked alongside his father from boyhood.

And here is a Unicef report on how the Tsunami forever changed the lives of two brothers caught in the deluge.

Here is a list of some Tsunami Relief resources.