In January 2005, six months after the tragedy, a group of the affected poor families including the parents of the deceased and injured children came to Amritapuri to see Amma. 140 parents visited Amma on that day and on seeing the children with burns, her eyed filled with tears of compassion. Since one of the mothers had collapsed in Amma’s arms earlier during Darshan, Amma made it a point to meet each and every one of the parents and comfort them. She spent a long time consoling the survived children and their families, and later met the entire group privately in her room, soothing their sorrow and offering them support.
When presented with the pictures of the deceased children, Amma took each and every photographs in her hand, looked deeply into their eyes and gently kissed the forehead of the children. She continued to do so for each and every child killed in the fire. Amma’s interaction with the mourning parents was really heart-wrenching as women literally broke down in her arms, fighting, screaming and begging to her to return their children. Amma held mothers closely to her heart and comforted them to sooth their pain, while wiping away their tears and her own.
Many of the parents remembered how the brahmacharinis from MAM were of great help and comfort when the unthinkable tragedy hit them. “Your children came and gave us peace,” one of the fathers told Amma but the mothers expressed their fear of fire as many of the survived children were still scared of fires. They went on to say that the children, so petrified of the tragedy, didn’t allow them to light up even a stove! A little girl who lost her brother to the fire told Amma that she was ready to go to school but her mother was too frightened to send her. When her mother told Amma that she didn’t want to lose her daughter also, Amma pacified her and instructed her to send the child to school as it was important to get an education. Amma’s interaction with the parents and surviving children lasted for more than an hour and it was a moment of great comfort for the mourning families.
Life goes on, with Amma’s help
Later in the year 2005, Amma held her first public program in Kumbakonam to distribute the newly built homes for the families hit by the school fire tragedy, at the enormous Banadurai Higher Secondary School grounds. Mr. Tamil Azaghan, the chairman of Kumbakonam Municipality, handed over the keys of the new houses to the recipients. As part of the MAM scheme to build and distribute 51 houses for the families, Amma handed out the keys to ten newly built houses to poor families at that event. In addition, sewing machines were distributed to ten poor women from the area in order to help them earn a decent livelihood.