Fondly known as Appa, among the children he takes care of, Parmeshwaran, and his wife Choodamani, have quite a packed daily schedule. Naturally, as taking care of 36 orphans isn’t an easy task. Nambikkai (hope), the couple’s home for children who lost everything in the 2004 tsunami, has been a warm, safe haven for these kids ever since that fateful day, in 2004.
The physical scars of the tsunami might have healed, but the wounds are still fresh for scores of children, who found themselves orphaned.
Parmeshwaran himself lost all his three children on that fateful day. Contemplating suicide, he and his grief-stricken wife decided to walk around the streets of Nagapattinam, to gauge the extent of the tsunami’s devastation.
They were greeted by grisly sights of bodies strewn all over, with babies wailing near their dead mothers and lost children walking around, looking for their parents. The husband-wife duo held a few children by the hand and took them home. Over the course of the next few weeks, they would return and find more children who needed a home. There has been no looking back, and today, Nambikkai houses 36 kids.
The couple have two sons of their own, but all children are treated the same. The first child they adopted, Saravanan, lost his childhood in 2004, but today says optimistically, to The Quint, “ This is our own home. Just like any regular house where the boys will be more attached to the mother and the girls with the father. It has never been like a home or a hostel.”
Saravanan has an MBA degree, and many of the other children are successful graduates and engineers.
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Parmeshwaran sees the tragedy the tsunami caused, as an eye-opener. The couple was devastated after losing their children, but decided to rise above their sorrow and honour their memory, by helping others. Which is why, even though the images of the tsunami and its carnage is fresh in the children’s minds, they are finally at peace.