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​Kavitha from the tsunami to children in difficulty

On 26 December 2004, while her mother was on the beach selling fish and Kavitha was at home in the village of Samiyapettai with her younger sisters, the great tidal wave generated by one of the largest earthquakes in history struck the coast of the Tamil Nadu region, one of the poorest in southern India. It was in those very hours of terror – one can read about it on the website www.cesvi.org – that Kavitha met the workers of Ekta, a local partner association of CESVI, an acronym that stands for cooperation and development. The now thirty-year old says “My success is due to them because they gave me the possibility of studying and of developing my skills”. Kavitha is now in charge of one of the Houses of Smiles for children in difficulty in Tamil Nadu. When she was taken on she had just obtained a diploma in biotechnology, whereas now, after completing a distance learning degree course in English, she is taking a post-graduate masters course. The young woman – who has learned to drive, to use a computer, to sew and to manage public relations – has been able to repay her mother’s debts and to help her sisters to get married. In Tamil Nadu many poor families are in a condition of semi-slavery, working in the rice mills or brick factories, living without electricity, sanitation or any possibility of external contacts. The children who do not go to school accompany their parents to their workplace, while the younger ones are left uncared for. The babies and children of destitute families find the House of Smiles an important place to turn to for health care, psychological and social support and the possibility of going to school and of receiving legal assistance.

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