The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
An old Maldivian folk tale says:
"At the place where the oceans end, there are enormous copper walls that hold back masses of sea water. Every night, demons lick away at these massive walls, trying to erode them, so that the water can come roaring through. They lick so hard at the copper walls that, just before dawn, the walls become dangerously thin. It is only by reciting the gunutu, a chant that forms part of the dawn Muslim prayer, that the walls can be restored to their usual thickness each morning."
For too many families, the tsunami that struck the Maldives at 9:20 a.m. on 26 December, 2004, really was the end of the world. Some islanders saw the first wave coming, or saw the waters recede before the waves, and managed to alert others on time. But for every story of a life saved, there's another story of a mother or father who held onto a child, only to have them swept from their arms.
In what is well-known as an unprecedented global contribution, funds came flooding in for the overall UNICEF tsunami recovery effort -$54 million to date for the Maldives. The UNICEF response in the post-tsunami emergency period focused on delivering clean water, sanitation and education to affected populations.