Empower the victims of Ookhi Cyclone

Cyclone Ockhi, which struck the Indian subcontinent during the first week of December 2017, had a devastating impact on the fishing hamlets of Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu.

According to official death toll, 200 lives were lost, and a similar number of fishermen were reported missing at sea. The families that survived these fishermen lost their sole breadwinners.  Many widows currently have no income to sustain their families, no homes, and face crippling debt. 

Although several NGOs initially offered support to these affected families, such aid waned when the fervor around the cyclone died down and families were left with an uncertain future.

With limited resources, we decided to help the inhabitants of eight villages that experienced tragic loss due to the cyclone. We discovered a significant deficiency of appropriate safety equipment that could have warned fishermen of impending disaster at sea. We also realized that though government sponsored relief programs were available, many of the inhabitants were not aware of these programs or did not know how to avail them. With that in mind, we initiated programs to empower the women in these villages, providing them with opportunities to earn a livelihood and to continue to put their children through school.

The first step towards empowering inhabitants was to inform them of available opportunities. On March 28, 2018, we held an exhibition at St. John the Baptist Church in Poothurai. The exhibition featured NGOs, Central and State Government Agencies, local entrepreneurs and technology companies. Representatives from Garmin and Furuno introduced participants in the exhibition to navigation devices, disaster beacons and satellite phones, while micro financing institutions discussed how fishermen could obtain the funds to purchase such instruments.

In addition to the exhibition, we have set up long-term engagement programs, including training sessions for tailoring and producing value-added fish based food products. With the help of short-term sponsors, we hired professionals to run these training sessions. The aim of providing training is to help participants become experts and entrepreneurs with the means to set up businesses of their own. Through observing these sessions, we believe that these programs will help the inhabitants of fishing villages in the long run, offering them an alternate source of income and a way to raise themselves above the poverty line.


My name is Ramesh Chellathurai and I work for the European Space Agency in Germany as Ground Operations Manager. I grew up in Kanyakumari until I moved to Germany for my job. Hence, the plight of the people in my hometown is close to my heart.  Although I do not have any previous experience in relief activities, the support and help I am receiving from friends and well-wishers gives me the hope that, as a team we will be able to achieve our goal of helping the people recover quickly and live a life with dignity.

Thank you for your support.

Dinakaran Newspaper clip
Dinakaran Newspaper clip
Proud with the finished product
Proud with the finished product
Participants at work
Participants at work
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21st June 2018

As of now, we have provided:
  1. Value added Fish products training for 20 participants from Poothurai, completed
  2. Tailoring classes for 24 participants from Poothurai, completed
  3. Tailoring classes for 30 participants from Colachel, completed
  4. Tailoring classes for 23 participants from Eraviputhenthurai, on-going
  5. Tailoring classes for 30 participants from Marthantamthurai and Neerodi, completed
  6. Making shell and craft products for a class of 48 participants from Poothurai, on going.
  7. Second batch of tailoring classes for 28 participants from Eraviputhenthurai, on-going
In addition to the above training sessions, a machine for making coir from coconut fiber was supplied with a start up financial help to three people so that they can begin an independent enterprise of supplying coir to local buyers.

Start up financial help was provided for the group that trained to make value added fish products to produce and sell their ware in the neighborhood.  The group has been successful in running a profitable business till date.

Start up support was provided for 20 participants in poothurai to stitch nightdress for women which were sold for a profit in the neighborhood.

Individual Self help groups were created/being created with the fish products group, shell products group and tailoring groups in all the locations.

Financial help in the form of school fees was provided for children who lost the earning member in the family.

School bags were supplied to 150 children including those who had lost their homes in the hurricane.

On-going work:

The tailoring classes were conducted in collaboration with Indueuro, a Tirupur based garment exporting company (http://www.indeuro.com/).   Students were assessed for their tailoring skills by professionals from the company and a certificate of course completion was issued for qualified students.  The students are now starting their own ventures as a group or as individuals and have starting earning money using their skills.

We are in the process of opening tailoring centers in Neerody and Marthandamthurai where students can bring their own orders and material and use the machines we provide to fulfill them..  We are also in the process of opening a shop in Nagercoil where the merchandise produced by the trainees could be sold to public.  In addition to this walk-in store we are also exploring the possibility of selling these products along with Indeuro products through an online store.  Corporate bulk orders from for creating personalized products for their needs is also being pursued at this time.  
7th March 2018
Dear Supporters,
Thank you for your support.

Happy to Share that, while the first batch of tailoring is on-going, today we have started the classes for the second batch of students from Neerody, at the John bonal social welfare centre,  Marthandanturai,  Kollemcode.

The classes would last for 3 months and 9 participants have enrolled themselves.

 We look forward for your support and love.

Thank you.
10th February 2018
Dear Supporter,

Happy to share with you all that, today the first batch of free tailoring classes had started at the Maria Rafols School, Mandaikadu - for the fishermen community women affected by the Ookhi cyclone - with the help from the school HeadMistress, Sister Juliette. 

It was just an idea two months back, but all of my friends and other well-wishers have made this happen. It is a humble but new beginning for the women - with the hope that, their new skill will support their family.

Thank you for the support. 
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raised of Rs.550,000 goal

5 Supporters

Beneficiary: Victims of the ... info_outline

Supporters (5)

Ashok donated US $400
17 days ago

Proud of you Ramesh . You are doing great job keep going

Dinesh donated US $100
26 days ago
Anonymous donated Rs.2,500
30 days ago
Amsaveni donated Rs.3,500
5 months ago
Balaji donated US $250
7 months ago

I am glad to participate on this fund raising for the victims of the cyclone. Best wishes for a great success.