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The Tsunamika Project

Healing and Transformation of human consciousness

Tsunamika is one of the many Tsunami-related projects of Auroville - a universal city in the making in south India, dedicated to the ideal of human unity.


The Tsunamika project has been conceived by Upasana Design Studio, a garment design unit in Auroville, and mobilised in the coastal villages of Auroville's bioregion.


The project has the following objectives:

  • Post-disaster trauma counselling     

  • Livelihood generation

  • Women’s empowerment

  • Medium for education                              

  • Example of how ‘gift economy’ works


The project has focused on the fisherwomen who were traumatized by the Tsunami disaster. The initial aim of the project was to help the women overcome the trauma they experienced, by getting them involved in some creative handicraft work which could channel their energy in a constructive manner. For this purpose, 480 ladies from 6 coastal villages were given handicraft training to make a small doll using left-over fabric from Upasana's products. The project team then bought the completed dolls from the fisherwomen and began distributing them widely as gift items. The doll, known as Tsunamika, quickly became very popular, and soon helped establish a strong emotional bond and identity among the people who had made her, as well as among those who received her. Soon the project evolved into a livelihood option for nearly 180 ladies, who began receiving income for every doll they made. At the same time, large numbers of people volunteered to distribute Tsunamika worldwide, and the entire project became a demonstration of “gift economy”. Within a period of just 18 months, with donations coming in from around the world, the project became self-sufficient to run on its own income.


Tsunamika has already inspired a number of business corporations to use her as their New Year gift. The project has also motivated school teachers to use her as a means for education, which is a newly emerging facet of the Tsunamika project. Read her story: Tsunamika story-book.



Tangible results in 14 years


  • The project is self-sustained since 2006.

  • Tsunamika project runs on Gift Economy.

  • 480 ladies received handicraft training across seven villages across Pondicherry and Tamilnadu in 2004 they trained another 500 hundred ladies, later 200 choose to continue making the doll as a livelihood.

  • Currently, around  50 ladies are involved in the project, earning a livelihood.

  • Created and gifted nearly 60,00,000 dolls.

  • Distribution network made up of volunteers in 80 countries.

  • Development of nearly 50 Tsunamika-associated products

  • Received “award of excellence” from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi.

  • Recognition from UNESCO.

  • Received national and international media coverage in print and on TV.

  • Celebrated her 10th birthday in 2015.

  • Tsunamika Story is Tamilnadu Government school Textbook in class XI.

  • Tsunamika storybook is translated in seven international languages.

  • Tsunamika story has been staged as a theatre in India and Finland.

  • Pinkathan India is using Tsunamika as Medal of Marathon.

  • Many Organization, Fashion designers, NGOs in India have used Tsunamika to present their organizations.

  • 100000 Ttsunamikas went to Japan post-tsunami in 2011 through “Peace Boat”.

  • A stunning example of “Sustainable Design”.

  • Became inspirational Icon of  many projects like – “Joy of giving” nation wide in india.

  • Chekutty in kerala post Flood in 2018.


Intangible results


  • Helped heal the trauma experienced by the ladies, and within their families.

  • Rebuilt confidence and self-respect for the women

  • Brought out leadership qualities in the women

  • Brought out organizational skills in the women

  • Demonstrated successfully Gift economy at large scale and sustained over a decade.

  • Built community around Tsunamika.

  • Generated deep emotional bonding and love among a worldwide network of Tsunamika volunteers

  • Upcycling Fashion industry waste into “Symbol of Hope”.

  • Helped ‘design’ students to think differently, by applying their creativity for social development.

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