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Meet Selvam


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.