CHENNAI, India (BP)–When the waters receded, their livelihood was gone, along with homes and sometimes loved ones. But one by one, fishermen are returning to the beach to try and salvage their nets –- and their future.
Most had fled the aftermath of the Dec. 26 killer tsunami, leaving everything behind.
“It was eerie,” said Rajkumar Doss. “Where there were once thousands of people, there was now no one. The towns and villages along the south coast were completely empty -– destroyed. Village after village, no one was around. Everyone fled to the camps where they could get food, shelter and water. They wanted to escape the horror and impending disease of so many bodies lying around their now destroyed homes and workplaces.”
Doss is a fashion and advertising photographer who is active in Christian work throughout south India, including partnering with Baptist personnel in the country.
“It looked like a war had taken place,” he said. “What was really sad to see were the fishing nets -– all in a tangled mess. Bunches of them were on the beaches. They were tangled in trees, attached to shattered pieces of wood –- everywhere.”
It was in the nets, however, that Doss saw a glimmer of hope as the fishermen began trying to repair them.
Patiently they sat, working to untangle the mess, determined to get back to work -– their livelihood –- as quickly as possible. But it was a slow and tedious process, and most nets will be unsalvageable.
In many ways, the scenario is symbolic of the situation. The lives of the fishermen are a tangled mess. Their nets are trashed, their boats are shattered, the task is next to impossible. Slowly, slowly the men try to untangle the knots and straighten out the mess of their lives.
“What else can they do?” Doss asked. “To lose hope would be to lose everything.”
Southern Baptists and local Christians know of a greater hope than untangled fishing nets and are sharing the hope found in Jesus Christ as they minister with gifts of food, clothing and shelter.
“[We have] an unprecedented opportunity,” said one worker, “to reach out in Jesus’ name and share His gift of life and love.”