The date was 26th December 2004. It started with an undersea earthquake off the coast of North Sumatra in the Indian Ocean, resulting in a tsunami that struck the coasts of India. In a few hours, over 2,30,000 people across 13 countries lost their lives.

In India, the tsunami decimated villages and towns in the coastal region of Tamil Nadu as an estimated 10,000 people lost their lives. One of the worst affected areas in Tamil Nadu was Muzukuthurai, a village in the backwater of Cuddalore district, razed to the ground by the tsunami.

“When the tsunami hit, we ran for our lives to high ground. Our flimsy thatched houses could not withstand the towering waves. They were flattened to the ground. Twelve people from our small fishing village were lost,” says Nagarajan.

Habitat for Humanity India began a massive post-tsunami rebuilding program that worked towards helping families rebuild and get back on their feet. In the process, Muzukuthurai was relocated inland to reduce the risk of such disasters on their lives and livelihood. When Habitat handed over completed houses to tsunami affected families in 2006, it helped families like Nagarajan’s hope for a better future.

“We were fishermen barely making ends meet. But now, 15 years after the tsunami, our economic condition has vastly improved. Thanks to Habitat who gave us the foundation to rebuild our lives, I now have extended my house to three bedrooms, a hall and a kitchen,” says Nagarajan.

Nagarajan is among the 111 families affected by the tsunami in Muzukuthurai, Tamil Nadu who built new disaster-resilient homes in partnership with Habitat India.