CHILDREN OF THE TSUNAMI { 23 images } Created 3 Oct 2013

Originally commissioned by The Times Magazine and UNICEF, this story developed to became a four-year project documenting the lives of two young Indian sisters who lost their mother and younger brother to the 2004 Asian Tsunami.

Every child affected by the tsunami had to adapt to changed circumstances and cope with emotions no one in their family could have possibly anticipated. Grief rendered some silent, in others it provoked a real sense of anger. Some children became withdrawn while others craved attention and resorted to disruptive behavior. For all, the experience of losing a parent seemed to strengthen the bond they shared with their brothers and sisters.

Vijitha and Vijyashree Viswanathan live with their father Viswanathan in a small house in the fishing village close to Cuddalore in India's Tamil Nadu state. As the years have progressed, memories of the tsunami have begun to fade but the repercussion of that terrible event continues to define the sisters' lives. Vijitha and Vijyashree now have to compete for the attention of their father since his remarriage and the birth of two more children. Vijitha takes this potential hurdle in her stride and enjoys the responsibilities of growing up. But her younger sister Vijyashree is doing poorly at school and has an air of disenchantment about her. She suffers fits and though that need not necessarily be a problem, she is treated as a fragile child and behaves accordingly. Their father Viswanathan does not enjoy regular employment as a fisherman and their new mother Kayalvizhi is illiterate and is not in a position to respond to Vijitha and Vijyashree’s emotional or educational needs.
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