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Kayalvizhi plaits Vijyashree's hair for school while Vijitha applies a bindi and powders her face. Kayalvizhi married the girls' father after the tsunami.

These photographs encompass four years in the lives of two families of children from South India who lost their mothers to the Asian tsunami. Following that momentous event in 2004, the five Krishnamurthy sisters from Puddupettai went to live in the Cuddalore Government Special Home for Tsunami Children. And Vijitha and Vijyashree Viswanathan, after an initial brief spell at the same home, now live with their father and his new wife in the nearby fishing village of Thalanguda.

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 Some became withdrawn while others craved attention and resorted to disruptive behavior.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

The loss of a parent meant that some of the children photographed in this project inherited responsibilities that, while often a burden, provided a distraction from their own painful emotions. Sivaranjini Krishnamurthy lost her mother to the tsunami and then, together with her four younger sisters was abandoned by her father. At eleven years of age she took on the role of a mother to her younger sisters. Though she attends school and receives the support of orphanage staff, Sivaranjini has sacrificed much of her own childhood to take care of them.

For Sivaranjini and the other children whose experiences are presented here, the tsunami is a defining event in their lives; the terrible personal upheaval they have suffered will inevitably shape all of their futures.

Photo: Tom Pietrasik
Tamil Nadu, India
Octo
Copyright
©Tom Pietrasik
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4372x2906 / 3.3MB
Contained in galleries
CHILDREN OF THE TSUNAMI
Kayalvizhi plaits Vijyashree's hair for school while Vijitha applies a bindi and powders her face. Kayalvizhi married the girls' father after the tsunami. <br />
<br />
These photographs encompass four years in the lives of two families of children from South India who lost their mothers to the Asian tsunami. Following that momentous event in 2004, the five Krishnamurthy sisters from Puddupettai went to live in the Cuddalore Government Special Home for Tsunami Children. And Vijitha and Vijyashree Viswanathan, after an initial brief spell at the same home, now live with their father and his new wife in the nearby fishing village of Thalanguda. <br />
<br />
Each child affected by the tsunami had to adapt to changed circumstances and cope with emotions no one in their family could have possibly anticipated. The younger children seemed to adjust more quickly than their older siblings. And, while grief rendered some silent, in others it provoked a real sense of anger. Some became withdrawn while others craved attention and resorted to disruptive behavior. For all of the children, the experience of losing a parent seemed to strengthen the bond they shared with their brothers and sisters. <br />
<br />
The loss of a parent meant that some of the children photographed in this project inherited responsibilities that, while often a burden, provided a distraction from their own painful emotions. Sivaranjini Krishnamurthy lost her mother to the tsunami and then, together with her four younger sisters was abandoned by her father. At eleven years of age she took on the role of a mother to her younger sisters. Though she attends school and receives the support of orphanage staff, Sivaranjini has sacrificed much of her own childhood to take care of them. <br />
<br />
For Sivaranjini and the other children whose experiences are presented here, the tsunami is a defining event in their lives; the terrible personal upheaval they have suffered will inevitably shape all of their futures. <br />
<br />
Photo: Tom Pietrasik<br />
Tamil Nadu, India<br />
Octo