January 7 2005
Extension of Emergency Aid for Tsunami Victims in South Asia
Coming to terms with the trauma in India, rebuilding in Sri Lanka, support teams
07/01/2005 - SOS Children's Villages' work with traumatised children and attending to unaccompanied children is being further intensified. In Sri Lanka emergency efforts to assist affected families are continuing and the first steps towards rebuilding villages are underway. Despite difficult conditions, a support team from SOS Children's Villages Indonesia have been able to reach Aceh with emergency supplies.
In many towns in southern India people have begun to venture out from their temporary accommodation in temples, schools and community centres in order to return to the ruins of their villages and search for what remains of their belongings. Some, however, return to the temporary accommodation at night.
As a result of these fluctuations, SOS Children's Villages has begun to close some of these emergency centres and to set up new centres in the areas where people evacuated from their homes have tended to stay. A new centre has now been opened at the train station in Nagapattinam, where approximately 200 children will be looked after daily for up to seven hours in through activity programmes.
Despite the difficult psychological strains the children are still suffering from, the therapeutic work with traumatised children is showing some success, being able to produce smiles and getting the children active once more. The children take part in skipping, drawing, billiards and Rangoli, a very popular form of street painting in southern India. Together they also read stories, make music and receive food. Many children clearly illustrate their experiences, banishing their horrors onto paper in the form of pictures. Step by step, this will help them for the future.
SOS Children's Villages plans to open a further 20 activity centres over the next few days, through which around 2,000 children will be reached. Five locations between Kanyakumari und Pondicherry are currently being identified. The organisation is also currently searching for volunteer youths from the area to assist in these centres.
According to estimates by the SOS Children's Villages' support team approximately 10,000 children in the badly affected area south of Chennai have lost one parent and over 300 children have lost both parents as a result of the sea surge. Children, parents and other family members are still searching for missing relatives. Following the experiences of SOS Children's Villages in similar crisis situations, it is expected that it will take up to two months before finally ascertaining how many children will require long-term care.
Wherever possible, SOS Children's Villages tries to care for unaccompanied children and children, for whom it is not certain who will care for them, in the area from which they originate. Among other things, SOS Children's Villages has therefore undertaken the temporary care of 35 children whose parents have died or are receiving medical treatment or who simply have no one to look after them.
Further details of emergency aid in southern India in recent news
Emergency measures in the east and south east of Sri Lanka are now well underway. Alongside the provision of emergency supplies and accommodation to affected families, support teams are now supporting the rebuilding of families and villages.
The fate of the village Komari is representative for hundreds of others. The small village on the east coast of the island lies in the province of Ampara, where the estimated death toll lies at 10,500. Cedric de Silva, National Director of SOS Children's Villages in Sri Lanka, talks of Komari in the past tense, as the former 800 strong community no longer exists. Komari has disappeared and so have its community centre, the water tank and the thatched houses. Among the 320 families, there have officially been 70 deaths. The survivors have fled to emergency camps.
SOS Children's Villages Sri Lanka wants to help rebuild Komari. Families will receive financial support in order to provide themselves with basic supplies. The village territory will be cleared of debris and rubbish brought by the water. This will be a difficult task since there is only one excavating machine to undertake the work. SOS Children's Villages is, however, in contact with other NGOs and building firms to obtain another appropriate machine. The families are searching through the debris for anything of use - bricks, wood, fishing equipment, cooking utensils.
Many youths from a variety of SOS Youth Facilities will make their way to Komari to help the families with the clean up. SOS Children's Villages will additionally finance the rebuilding of the houses as well as construct a community centre, a children's day care centre and a primary school, all of which will be supported by SOS Children's Village Monaragala.
Support for a number of other families is also planned through the financing of five community centres in other villages. These centres should be built in safe areas and be used by the community as schools and health centres etc and in crisis situations should serve as emergency accommodation.
Further details of emergency aid in Sri Lanka in recent news
A support team from SOS Children's Villages in Indonesia has in the last few days reached the province of Aceh and set up a base camp in Bakongan, from where emergency aid distribution will be organised for the province's severely affected towns and communities.
The main target of the aid is the town of Meulaboh, which is closest to the epicentre of the earthquake on 26 December. Meulaboh is supposed to have been completely destroyed and is still very much isolated and inaccessible by land. Consequently, very few aid teams have been able to reach the area.
From the camp in Bakongank, the team members have been providing basic supplies to refugees travelling to relatives or completely into the unknown. Tapaktuan, which is also only accessible by boat, is the next station for the SOS team, where survivors will be provided with foodstuffs, clothing, medicines, baby milk powder and toys for children etc.
After Tapaktuan the team should reach Kutanibong, where more than 1,000 people are still awaiting assistance. SOS Children's Villages has sent skilled volunteers from various fields (doctors, psychologists, teachers, social workers, technicians) to different locations in Java and Bali. A second support team is due to make its way to Aceh next week.