Thank you, but that was no help | india | Hindustan Times
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Thank you, but that was no help

A year after the tsunami struck, there is very little that the administration has understood about tribal lifestyle and culture.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2005 17:00 IST

A YEAR after the tsunami struck, there is very little that the administration has understood about tribal lifestyle and culture. Result: sanitary napkins being used as pillows, milk powder being thrown away and saris that the tribals just won’t wear.

In the post-tsunami days, the government and NGOs from all over the world distributed thousands of packets of sanitary napkins to Nicobarese tribal women — all in vain.

“Nicobari women do not use sanitary napkins,” says Sameer Acharya, secretary, Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology. “When thousands of packets were reaching them, they didn't know what to do. Since there was a water problem immediately after the tsunami, some intelligent tribal suggested that the napkins could be used as toilet paper.

With the supply of sanitary napkins continuing all through the year, the men decided it was a great material to make pillows.”

Stories of misplaced relief priorities abound across all the islands — of the government and the NGOs ignoring local sensibilities and requirements; of people having no choice but to refuse the relief material. Take milk. The Nicobari tribal population has no history of drinking milk.