The sleepy fishing hamlet of Hanumanthaikuppam near Puducherry came alive on Tuesday when former US president and Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter made a brief visit to a site where houses are being built for tsunami victims.
Inaugurating 13 new houses constructed by the NGO Habitat For Humanity India on the East Coast Road, 25 km from Puducherry, Carter pledged the commitment of his country and the world community towards rebuilding the lives of the tsunami-hit people in the village in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, bordering Puducherry.
Carter flew down from Mumbai with his wife Rosalynn after beginning an initiative by the Jimmy Carter Work Project to build houses for the poor at Lonavla on Monday.
"We in America did not suffer the attack of the tsunami. Still, we share the commitment to rebuild everything possible with several of our partners and render compassionate service. I am here to represent thousands of volunteers participating in this project," he told curious villagers.
The 82-year old Carter said the HFHI programme was active in 10 tsunami-affected countries to rehabilitate farmers and fishermen.
Carter said his next destination was Thailand, which along with Indonesia, was the worst-hit by the tsunami in 2004.
Coming from a farming background, Carter was at ease with the small crowd of fisherfolk, who were delighted to see him.
"I hail from a village which has only 600 people. My wife Rosalynn and I produce maize and peanuts back home. When the tsunami struck, every heart in our village grieved with all those who suffered," he said.
US Consul General David T Hopper, Villupuram's Collector Ashish Chatterjee and representatives of HFHI were present.
The HFHI has built 46 houses in five hamlets near Hanumanthaikuppam and is in the process of constructing another 658 houses in Nagapattinam, Kancheepuram and Chidambaram districts at a cost of over Rs 1 crore, a representative said.