January 11th, 2015
A decade ago, the fisherwomen in coastal areas had lost it all, their lives washed away by the terrible Tsunami in 2004 that had left them homeless, penniless, helpless.
Enter Tsunamika the doll, now 10 years old, a brainchild of Pondicherry-based designer Uma Prajapati who came up with the idea at a Tsunami relief camp in Auroville while she was working with the children affected by the disaster (The doll was originally designed by Prema Viswanathan).
The doll-making began as a post-trauma empowerment method to keep the dejected women engaged in something constructive, but gradually emerged as a source of income too, as six million of these dolls were later exported to 80 countries. These dolls were given away as gifts to people in distress around the world — setting an example of gift economy.
Tsunamika has received donations of almost Rs 5 lakhs per year on average, helping 100 women make a respectable living and has helped heal the hearts of of women and children in the villages of coastal Tamil Nadu.
As part of a new initiative, Tsunamika is now raising several issues including the need for recycling, responsible waste management, sustainable fishing practices and beach restoration.
A tsunamika storybook received UNESCO recognition and was translated into German, Russian, Danish, French, Tamil and Spanish. The story also got into the school curriculum of the Tamil Nadu State School Board and the project itself became the basis for a case study in the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi.
The Logical Indian community salutes this noble initiate that inspires and empowers so many people in such a simple and heartwarming manner.
PS. One can source a Tsunamika by writing in to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling at 0413 2622939/57.
-Abhijit Chakraborty, Columnist