Photo Essay Tsunami 2004

26 December 2014

© Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

26 December 2014 marks 10 years since the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 250,000 people in a matter of hours, and left hundreds of thousands homeless. It was a disaster unlike any other and the world responded with unprecedented generosity – in Britain, almost £400 million ($630 million) was donated to the British charities that make up the Disaster Emergencies Committee (DEC). Eight months after the disaster, photographer Tim Hetherington travelled to India and Sri Lanka with Christian Aid to produce a series of images for their one-year anniversary exhibition Every time I see the sea. Tragically, Tim died while working in Libya in 2011, but his work is now part of ,Tsunami: 10 years after the wave, a multimedia production by Christian Aid.

[Photo, top] Kajendhri, 28, stands in front of her partly destroyed home in Palhayar, India. ‘I thought I was going to die, but I wanted to get away so I could see my children again. When I woke up I was almost naked. I could see water everywhere and there was a grand silence.’

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

Nearly 2,000 people died when this train became trapped in the waves near Peraliya, Sri Lanka. The crumpled carriages later became a shrine to grieving relatives.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

Thousands of lives were saved by this half-built flyover near Nagipattinam, southern India. ‘I ran to the flyover and climbed the scaffolding. Hundreds of people were trying to climb up. Women could not climb in their saris, and they kept falling,’ said 34-year-old Selvamai.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

Almost 35,000 fisherfolk were killed and tens of thousands of fishing vessels destroyed. It took months for the fishers to return to sea. Organizations like Christian Aid provided fishing boats and equipment to help them get back to work.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

Over a million people lost their homes, possessions and vital documents. NGOs built thousands of new houses but land disputes and government restrictions meant that some people had to live in makeshift camps for months, or even years.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

In Sri Lanka almost 4,500 children lost one or both of their parents to the tsunami. Tim photographed some of them as part of an art and drama workshop, which aimed to help children come to term with their loss.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

In the weeks after the tsunami even those not directly affected by the waves were afraid to go down to the beach. A year later people had started to overcome their fear. Here, Muslim schoolgirls play on the seashore in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

In memory of Tim Hetherington and those killed by the tsunami.
All photos copyright Christian Aid/Tim A Hetherington.
Films of Tim's tsunami work: Tsunami portraits; After the Tsunami
Tsunami: 10 years after the wave

Photo project in Thailand helps tsunami-affected children tell their stories

© UNICEF Thailand/2006
At an InSIGHT Out! photo workshop in Thailand, tsunami-affected Muslim girls learn how to use digital cameras. The project also creates an opportunity to help children make friends with others from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

By Robert Few

PHANG NGA, Thailand, December 2006 – Some of the most marginalized children in Thailand’s tsunami-afflicted Phang Nga Province are getting a chance to express themselves through ‘InSIGHT Out!’ – a UNICEF-supported photo project.

The project has provided 77 children between the ages of 10 and 15 with digital cameras and photography training. It is being carried out by a team of Bangkok-based journalists and photographers who initially covered the tsunami disaster in 2004. After seeing the devastation firsthand, these media professionals thought the cameras could help empower children and their communities.

“They’ve got so many people coming to take photos of them, and they never get the chance to do it themselves,” said InSIGHT Out! coordinator Nuttakarn Sumon. “Now we give them the tools.”

© UNICEF Thailand/2006
Girls involved in InSIGHT Out! in Thailand interview each other for their photo projects and journals.

Mixture of backgrounds

Most of these youths are from either the minority sea gypsy Moken or migrant communities, so they don’t have local residency and can’t go to school. InSIGHT Out! brings together different cultures, allowing children to interact with youths from other religious and ethnic groups, often for the first time.

“Normally, kids from these different communities don’t mix much,” says project manager Jeanne Hallacy. “But they came to understand that they actually have a lot in common whether they are Thai, Burmese or Muslim.”

Win Maw, 12, is the child of two Burmese migrants and didn’t attend school until just last year. With the skills she learned by attending InSIGHT Out!, she won a photo contest organized by National Geographic.

“When it was published, everyone came around to look at the magazine,” said Win. “I felt very proud for my people.”

© UNICEF Thailand/2006
On a photo shoot, instructor Htun Htun Naing gives guidance to a student, Maung Naing Lin, who is from one of the most excluded and impoverished groups in Thailand, the Burmese migrant workers’ community.

‘The way forward’

InSIGHT Out! staff member Htun Htun Naing is also a Burmese migrant. “In the Burmese community, we were very badly affected by the tsunami. But through this project, the children are showing us the way forward,” he said.

To mark the two-year anniversary of the tsunami, some of the best photos and written journals from the InSIGHT Out! project will travel to Asia, Europe and the United States. A smaller exhibition will be held in the villages where disaster struck, such as the province of Aceh, Indonesia, where a parallel InSIGHT Out! effort is under way.

“Projects like this are an important part of the recovery process,” said UNICEF Thailand Communication Officer Mark Thomas. “The work of the InSIGHT Out! team is helping these children overcome deep feelings of loss and insecurity, and showing them that things can and will get better.”







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