Sodhanaikuppam is a fishing village in a suburb north of Pondicherry that was particularly affected by the late 2004 tsunami. Sharana initially participated in post-tsunami relief efforts, providing fishing nets, repairing boats, and organizing general rehabilitation programs. The organization also focused the enrollment of all village children in schools for three years. Thanks to the very important financial support of Aude Solidarité and Sharana France, Sharana built a community center in Sodhanaikuppam to assist with:
- emergency aid, food and small equipment distribution;
- the establishment of a psychological counseling center;
- distribution of food supplements;
- medical screenings; and
- medical camps
Since that time, however, Sharana has mostly withdrawn from Sodhanaikuppam for several reasons. First, the village was obtaining help from several other organizations as part of wider tsunami relief efforts, and residents’ demands to identify sponsors for private school educations were becoming financially untenable. Second, the housing rehabilitation schemes proposed by local authorities would have resulted in a loss of livelihood for the people involved, but settling the matter was becoming a political issue in which Sharana could not get involved. Third and most important, Sharana adheres strictly to the principle that social programs should not be duplicated, so that when larger and more financially able NGOs began work in the village, Sharana elected to focus energies on other areas not similarly serviced by other organizations.
Even after Sharana’s withdrawal, however, 120 Sodhanaikuppam children continued to benefit from Sharana’s sponsorship programs (receiving bags, books, uniforms, and fees). Only recently, financial difficulties have compelled Sharana to trim its sponsorship activities in some areas until such time as funds become available. The center built by Sharana in Sodhanaikuppam is currently used for local women’s organization meetings and other community activities.