It is almost impossible for most of us to imagine the trauma that the survivors of December 2004 tsunami have undergone. One moment, a paradise coastline that provided work and good health… In an instant, that paradise lost. Lost loved ones, lost homes, fractured communities and lost livelihoods. Like in any bereavement, we come rushing to comfort and provide the best we can for the short term but, before long, survivors must face the truth of what has happened and it is up to themselves to rebuild and carry on with their lives in spite of the injustice that many may feel towards some others.
Soon after that terrible tragedy rocked the world, the venerable Mitsuo Kawestco¸ founder of the Buddhist Maya Kotamee Foundation, realised that survivors needed both spiritual therapy as well as a secure and steady working environment in which they could cope with their experience and rebuild their lives within their former communities. TheSaori project has answered both these needs, particularly among the women.
Physically, the Saori project is no more than a simple tent. Within it are a few small handlooms, a few sewing machines and some basic hand sewing equipment. The floor was, until recently, old wooden pallets but is now a more workable cement slab partly covered with vinyl. Psychologically, Saori is a place of solace, a hive of activity, a buzz of conversation and the bringer of real hope for the future for over 150 women. At first, the raw materials were the dismantled threads of excess donated clothing. Now, much use is made of off-cuts and leftovers from fabric manufacturers – though more is much needed – as well as any other suitable waste material, including plastic string. The end result is a beautiful, colourful woven cloth mix, each length different using the creativity of each weaver. The cloth is made up into all kinds of vivid bags and accessories that appeal to both young and old. New life is given to otherwise waste materials. Its production has given new life, hope and renewal to broken individuals and fractured communities of the tsunami.