Monday, August 25, 2008

Hope. Spirit. Renewal.

That's the motto of the Tsunami Volunteer Center. On Sunday a group of the new volunteers got a tour of some of the Tsunami affected areas, significant landmarks related to the Tsunami and some of TVC's projects that have put their motto into action. It's tragic to see the devastation the Tsunami caused but very uplifting to see how communities have rebuilt in its wake.

It's difficult to see from a picture how far this police boat is on land. This 40,000 ton police boat traveled about a mile on land and killed many people in its path.

This 4 star hotel had its grand opening just 5 days before the Tsunami struck. Staff from many other areas had left their families for the Christmas holiday to come here to help with the grand opening. All of the guests and staff from this hotel were killed in the Tsunami. This dilapidated reception area is all that remains.

Tsunami Memorial Park is located in an area that was very badly hit. The wave struck from two different directions so it was impossible to run from it. The park has a gallery of photographs and a huge metal wall that symbolizes the wave. There's also a wall with memorials to many of the Tsunami victims.

When the Tsunami struck, a boat now referred to as the Red Devil traveled on land, destroyed many homes and killed more than 100 people in its path. The Blue Angel, however, didn't kill anyone. The boatman on board survived and a man carrying his 3 year old daughter was able to grab on to the side of the boat and save himself and his daughter.

In addition to the devastation from the Tsunami we saw many signs of renewal. One of the projects that came out of the Tsunami Volunteer Center's efforts is a shop that teaches children how to make batiks. The batiks are sold in a couple of stores in town and the 100% of the proceeds go directly to the child who made that batik.

A Japanese man visited Khao Lak after the Tsunami struck and met many women lost their husbands in the Tsunami and therefore, had no means of earning money for their families. He taught women Japanese weaving so they could make crafts and be able to support their families. Since then, many local women continue to weave beautiful crafts and sell them in town. Here's Kaew, who works at TVC (and is an all around amazing gal), giving weaving a try.

The TVC also began a project called Thaikea (I love a good pun!) where scrap wood found after the Tsunami is used to make furniture. The furniture at this restaurant is Thaikea-made.

The last stop of the day was a visit to a beach covered in giant rocks that were washed up during the Tsunami. I'm no geologist so I have no idea what they are, but I've never seen anything like it on a beach. In addition to the rocks, there were tons of beautiful coral and many hermit crabs that found their home there.

It sounds trite to go on about how beautiful and warm and welcoming I've found Thai people to be, and how impressed I am with their ability to continue after they've suffered so much loss. I'll just say that meeting people like this woman make me happy and make me see that there are always opportunities for hope, spirit and renewal.

No comments: