March 15 2005
Life after the sea surge
SOS Children's Villages' long-term relief programmes after the Tsunami disaster
14/03/2005 - One could feel the festive atmosphere, see the hustle and bustle. The entire square had been decorated, and a colourful sail was outstretched. Everybody was very excited and participated in making the celebration a success. The fishermen said a special prayer and then set out to sea - it was the first time in two months.
On this occasion, ten boats, each carrying four fishermen and equipped with a motor and four nets, set sail from Pudukuppam, India. The men were given a terrific send-off pray. The women paused for a moment to pray for the men's safe return. On their return, a number of boats boasted a considerable catch. Confidence spread among those who had been faced with ruin, but who can once more begin to lead a normal life.
Such scenes are increasingly common in the Tsunami affected regions of the southern coast of India and in Sri Lanka. The ceremonies are soul-stirring, as fishermen, who lost their entire livelihoods to the tidal wave on December 26, are given boats with which they can independently make a living for themselves and their families. SOS Children's Villages is providing fishing cooperatives with a total of over 300 boats. The boat builders can hardly keep up with the demand and so the boats are being handed over in lots.
The provision of boats and fishing equipment to severely affected fishing families is part of SOS Children's Villages' support efforts following the disaster and the initial emergency relief.
Some 3,000 families in India and Sri Lanka are beneficiaries of SOS Children's Villages aid programmes; in Indonesia, where SOS teams are offering therapeutic activities in children's camps, locations and types of assistance for affected children and families are being discussed with local authorities.
Areas in which SOS Children's Villages is active:
- Komari (east cost)
- Iraalodai (east cost)
- Kayankerni (east cost)
- Galle (Telwatte, south cost)
In India and Sri Lanka, families with an average of between four and six members were given start-up grants; they were equipped with cooking utensils and provided with foodstuffs, especially fresh vegetables. Simultaneously, temporary housing was set up, which should last until the building of new houses has been completed.
SOS Children's Villages will be involved in rebuilding a number of villages on the east coast of Sri Lanka and the south coast of India. This equals up to ten villages in India and three villages in Sri Lanka predominantly populated by fishing families.
SOS Children's Villages will build community centres (ten in India and ten in Sri Lanka) which can be used for schools, kindergartens and health centres and will provide the locals with safe refuge in times of floods. The emergency camps for children were followed by day-care centres or kindergartens which are operational for a set period of time to take some of the burden off the shoulders of parents and to provide part-time or full day-care to pre-school children.
Another three-year relief programme covers about 1,000 families (900 in India, 100 in Sri Lanka) the majority of which are women-headed single-parent households. These families were already living in dire conditions before the tsunami disaster and their livelihoods are even more under threat now. The goal is to secure family life through training courses for women and youth, family and child education counselling, catch-up classes, children's play groups and play grounds, therapeutic services, basic health care services etc. Additionally, four multi-purpose facilities were built in India as centres for programmes for the promotion of families.
Numbers of children who have become orphaned due to the sea surge disaster and have lost all their closest relatives differ considerably. The fact is that a great number of children, especially in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, have lost their parents and relatives.
Plans for the construction of an SOS Children's Village in Pondicherry, India are underway and have been confirmed by the provincial governor. Furthermore, plans for the construction of a new SOS Children's Village in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka have been made, with respective negotiations underway.
Basic conditions for relief operations in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where up to 240,000 are feared to have died, are extremely difficult. Especially long-term implementation of social support projects requires patience and extensive negotiations with government and provincial authorities.
SOS Children's Villages relief teams have been on the ground since early January to provide children in refugee camps with activity programmes and, if required, help them with counselling. SOS Children's Villages plans to build five social centres (with day-care centre, school, and small mosque) along the completely devastated south coast between Meulaboh and Banda Aceh. It is also planned to help one hundred families at these locations to rebuild their lives. Implementation of these projects, as well as the possible construction of an SOS Children's Village, depends on how quickly government and provincial authorities will give their approval.