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Foreign hands toil for a fair cause

Though the task is huge and made even more difficult by flashes of terror, help for the victims is pouring in from far-flung land, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2005 04:13 IST

She is an alien sight. But she is around for a just cause. In the blazing mid-afternoon sun, the fetching blonde mixes cement and lugs it on her shoulder to the reconstruction site.

Her milky cheeks flushed strawberry, Lufthansa air-hostess Viola chips in for the Tsunami victims at Alappad in Kollam district. Dressed in pristine white, she has been holidaying the hard away for a month. "I burnt a lot of money. But I really enjoy working for the tsunami victims," says the 30-year-old.

Though the task is mammoth and made even more difficult by flashes of terror from the past, help for the victims is pouring in from far-flung land. A CEO of a foreign mobile-manufacturing unit is busy digging a toilet tank. "No photographs, please," he pleads with folded hands. Several foreigners — mostly devotees of Mata Amritanandamai — are working round-the-clock to build homes for the survivors. Their dedication has bowled over the local residents. "Initially, they were viewed with suspicion. But now hundreds of local youths have joined them," says Valsalan, a driver. The air is thick with the pungent smell of paint and varnish. It is redolent of hope. And the NGOs are vying with each other to complete rebuilding work.

Mata Mata Amritanandamai Mutt alone has built 1,000 houses in the district. Last week, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam handed over keys to 500 houses.

A semblance of prosperity is evident on the beach, pockmarked with remains of death and destruction not long ago. The clothes, play gear and even the fishing boats are new — banishing memories of a haunted past.

First Published: Dec 24, 2005 04:13 IST