SUMATRA, Indonesia, DEC. 23, 2008 ( The Caritas aid agency says the tsunami that obliterated the coast of the Indian Ocean four years ago has brought about many positive changes.

The Dec. 26, 2004, natural disaster killed some 300,000 people in 11 countries when an ocean earthquake triggered a series of devastating sea waves along the coasts of the Indian Ocean.

Caritas responded to the tsunami with a $485 million program and then spent the next years on teaching preparedness. Now, in Thailand for example, the agency reports that the only remaining signs of the disaster are the posters pointing evacuation routes to high ground.

The director of Caritas in the Diocese of Surathami, Father Suwat, noted that one of the other effects of the tsunami is the small businesses started by those who lost everything in 2004.

"A bank would never grant a loan to people like us who have no property as collateral," Sanu Lom, a new entrepreneur, explained. But with the help of Caritas and micro-credits, residents like him are able to make a living for themselves.

Father Suwat explained that women are those most involved in the plan. "In our Thai tradition," he said, "it is the woman who looks after the money at home and manages it."

On the coast of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the tsunami killed 9,000 people, Caritas India and various other Caritas bodies built 950 homes in coastal areas in the last two years.

There, too, Caritas is enabling the people to earn a living with programs of loans and savings.