Tsunamika, a doll that triumphs the spirit midst the face of affliction. She ignites hope and augments faith.
I was introduced to Tsunamika and her story, by Neelam and Vijay, my friends, who I met during my undergraduate study at NIFT, while they were pursuing their graduation project at Upasana Design studio, back in 2008.
‘Tsunamika meets her friends’, a tale of the Tsunamika doll, which was born of the devastating tsunami.
‘There was a little girl, Tsunamika, who lived on the ocean floor. She had never seen the sun, the moon are the stars because no light ever reached the ocean floor. She lived by herself and was very lonely. One day, a starfish came to her and said, “Have you ever seen the sun?”
But then, thanks to a starfish, the Sun, who granted her a wish, and the waves, she got friends, and not just friends but families too — mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who love her. She has travelled far and wide to distant lands and has spread love.
And Tsunamika looked up at the sun and smiled. She realized that she could give her love to all the people of the world’ ~ Upasana, Auroville.
Ever since I set sight on the Tsunamika doll, the resonance of the story that she holds, struck a chord with me.Since then she has been on my inspiration board and stimulates me to go on, along with other things.
Amudha, an inspiring woman, currently the project head for Tsunamika, took responsibility to provide for her family from the age of seven and as she grew up, she valued the importance of education. Her eagerness to learn, never diminished with time, even though she had to succumb to a lot of hardships.
She is proficient in English today, despite lack of training or introduction to English as a language. She is a mother and also a dear friend of the women, belonging to fishing community who are behind the making of Tsunamika.
I had mentioned to her, during a casual conversation about my longing to meet these women and the very same day,she arranged for a visit to a village called Bommayarpalayam, Tamil Nadu. A restored village cluster, which was destroyed due to Tsunami in 2004. Traumatized women and their families were introduced to Tsunamika, in order to ignite hope and rebuild their spirit, they were encouraged to develop skills in the handicraft of doll making and this engagement shaped a self sustaining model .
Today, these women are happy, self sufficient, nourishing their families, as their husbands the fishermen, continue to suffer loss in fishing, as fish habitats in the Bay of Bengal,have been altered since Tsunami.
The project Tsunamika, has evolved into a livelihood opportunity for nearly 180 women, they receive income for every doll they make. The entire project is a demonstration of “gift economy”, with donations from around the world, it is running independently.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”~ Confucius