When the December 26 tsunami disaster hit coastal villages in the Tamil Nadu state of India, among the first to offer assistance to the victims were the Dalits, the poorest of the poor - the 'untouchable' - or people with no caste. The tsunami made no distinction and neither did they. Only hours after the catastrophe members of the Mission Austria's CECODE, (Centre for Community Organisation and Development) were in affected villages in the districts of Villupuram and Cuddalore helping to rescue and assist the dazed victims. CECODE's director Sahaya Raj explained: "State aid promised by the government always takes a long time to reach its destination and not all of it goes to those most in need. The aid we offer is a well tested method used on the occasion of previous calamities. It is direct, immediate and concrete." The Dalit-run centre, which was started five years ago, aims 'to help broken people.' "We help people for whom daily life and recognition of rights is a struggle and are among the first to provide help where it is needed" said Missio Austria secretary Christian Mazal. "At the moment, men women and young people and medical staff are providing assistance in 52 different villages." For more information see www.missio.at Source: Fides
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