Mala, 11, is the
eldest in her family of four children and dropped out
of school last year after completing the sixth grade.
The tsunami spared her house in Kottaikkadu village
in Kancheepuram District, but her fisherman father was
nearly drowned: he survived with injuries. His fishing
boat and gear were lost. Hesitantly, they returned to
their house and started raising their heads. Being classed
as lower castes or ‘dalits’, the village
has been left out of relief support. Mala’s family
has received nothing, and for now she banks on her father
returning to the sea and mother toiling as a labourer
to keep the home fires burning. She has one younger
sister and two younger brothers.