Tsunami – initial reports

Below are two reports taken from emails by Joseph Vos who has been involved in the campaign to support the St. John’s Orphanage.

First Report on tsunami in Batticolai, East Sri Lanka.

From: Joseph Vos (vos@netvision.net.il)

Dear Friends,

I would like to inform you about what is currently known about the situation in Sri Lanka. As far as I am aware of at this point, Sri Lanka was hit with the full force of the tsunami from a 8.9 richter earthquake off Indonesia. Twenty foot high waves swept away whole villages.

I have been in contact with Rev. Jeyanesan, area minister of the Eastern Province for the JDCSI. The contact was very brief and communication was very difficult. He said that in Batticaloa only there were at least five thousand dead people and this number can rise.

He was just coming back from visiting one of the orphanages. He told me that the tsunami hit this orphanage so hard that the whole orphanage was destroyed completely. The pastor’s wife for the orphanage and their baby were swept away as well. They are still missing. She had been standing outside at the time the wave struck.

The children were in church at that time and were safe. Rev. Jeyanesan told me through another pastor by email that all the children are safe.

The situation in the other centers is as of yet not very clear, but one friend in Colombo told me that the other centers are probably safe.

Your prayers are in need at this time. The aftermath of such a disaster often means many broken families and great distress for all people inthe area. Please keep them in your prayers.

Joseph Vos
For the St. John’s Orphanages

Second Report on tsunami

Dear Friends,

It seems that many villages were completely destroyed in the Eastern Province. The highway connecting most parts has become impassable as the water has also reached that. I have heard that in one center in Trincomalee the children had been loaded into a bus just before the waves damaged some of the structures there.

The refugee camp next door has suffered great damage and many of the people there have been taken by the sea. I heard that none of the fishermen who were on the sea survived. Often, these fishermen do not know how to swim.

Apparently, many of the children from the homes were on leave for the holidays and were with relatives. It is as of yet unknown how many of the children have survived. Those children that were in the homes at the time of the tidal waves have all survived.

At this time also an appeal goes out for financial help. Access to the area is severely limited. All activities are severely hampered also by the devastation and also some by the bad weather. It is not possible to travel into the affected areas, but we are able to send funds to help the emergency needs.

We have been to a village of the indigenous Veddahs in the coastal regions and have brought them emergency supplies. Their village was completely erased, but the people had left before the destruction came. None of our structures in that area were found.

Still many bodies are strewn about in trees, in destroyed buildings, in the water, everywhere. They are starting to decompose and there is actual danger of an outbreak of diseases as a result. Many areas are normally already inaccessible and now especially the access is severely hampered. Supplies of drinking water have been contaminated by the sea water and latrines. Supplies of food are being hampered by inaccessible roads. Many people are without homes and many have lost their complete families. The disaster is of enormous magnitude. Still communication is severely hampered and only those with mobile phones can at times be reached, though this is also severely overstressed.

At this point estimates in the Eastern province alone are that around thirty thousand people are dead or missing.

The missing people are assumed dead as most do not know how to swim. The financial damage is enormous as well, as none of the people were insured, their lifes have been destroyed and many have lost their families. I am sure that with combined help we can bring some relief into the situation and I make therefore an appeal to you.

Please also continue to pray for these poor people as they wander about unknowingly what to do next with their life. They will need to find some kind of direction in their lifes now that so many have lost all that is dear and near to them.

Joseph Vos

Nov. 2004 Financial update

We have now received audited accounts for all the moneys we have donated
to the Orphanage project. A copy of this was also given to the Lions club
in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.

Many of the children sent us greetings written on shaped pictures they
had drawn and cut out of paper. Just a few are shown here.

An application has been submitted to LCIF for a Grant of $5,000 towards
equipping the printing shop in one of the Vocational Training Centres.
The criterion for such a grant is that we ourselves need to match the

To this end the whole of last year we had accumulated all the donations
given to this project. This amount now stands at £3125. This should
more than adequately meet the LCIF matching fund criteria.

We hope to hear the outcome of the application in the very near future.
The indications are that it would be favourable.

Donation matrix is also posted here showing how the funds have accumulated
towards the Vocational Training Centre printing shop equipment.

Shrewsbury Lions meet Sri Lankan Orphanage Organiser

Members of the Lions club of Shrewsbury held a BBQ in honour of one of their overseas beneficiaries, St John’s Orphanages in Sri Lanka. Coincidentally visiting them was also the president of the Sri Lankan Lions club who is involved with this project. The project Manager Reverend Jeynesan made a presentation to the club, explaining how the orphanages were started and how they are presently run. As a consequence of civil war which lasted for almost twenty years, there are more than 50,000 orphans in Sri Lanka. St John’s project was initially set up to take care of these orphans.

A further consequence of the civil war is an increase in the number of widows. Presently in addition to the orphanages, Reverend Jeynesan has a number of other projects on the go. An empowerment project for widows enables them to procure a small loan to start up a business.

There are nutritional feeding centres and day care centres for poor children still with their parents, which ensures that they get at least two square meals a day. The cost of feeding a child for a whole month is only about £5.00. There is also a vocational training centre to help youngsters learn a life sustaining skill.

The Lions are currently raising funds to feed more children and extend the vocational training centre. There are amore than 1000 applicants for 96 places. Unless these youngsters are gainfully occupied, there is always the danger that they may be influenced to participate in terrorist activities.

Latest Funding 2008 Update –

A summary of our funding achievements

So far approximately £25,000 has been collected and donated to the cause since this initiative began. Presently about £1200 every quarter is remitted. We have about 20 regular donors and two companies who also donate on a regular monthly basis. Occasionally we have unusual donations, one of our regular donors who got married recently requested his guests to donate to this initiative.

Read more…

£5,250 so far sent to Sri Lanka

  • A further sum of £1750 has been sent to Sri Lanka to support the project making a total of no less than £5,250. Most of this came from donations made by the various Lions clubs in the Zone, when they adopted this as the Zone Project. We also have 15 donors who are contributing monthly a sum of £5.00 towards this project.
  • An application is being prepared to be submitted to the Lions Club International Fund requesting donations to extend an existing Vocational Centre in Batticaloa. Rev. Jeynesan feels that more young people can be given the opportunity to acquire skills and fend for themselves. To meet the necessary criteria of LCIF matching funds raised by Lions clubs towards capital projects, we are actively seeking large organisation that are prepared to donate towards this project. Once again we are delighted to say GEMNI Group of companies have agreed to donate a regular sum of £100 on a monthly basis to kick off this second phase of the project.
  • The President of the Lions club in Batticaloa has expressed a wish to come over to the UK and meet up with members of the Lions club in Shrewsbury. Coincidentally Rev. Jeynesan, the Manager of the Orphanages project is also going to be visiting the UK at the same time. Members of the club are very much looking forward to these visits. These are scheduled for the latter part of August 2003.

The Initial Spend

Report on how £3,500 that was raised towards this appeal was spent.According to Rev. Jeyanesan the first instalment of £3,500 was invested in the Nutritional Feeding Programme run in the Eastern Province. The following centres are being supported at a cost per month of £145  per month per centre:

  1. St. John’s Nutritional Feeding Centre with 60 children which is being run on the compound of the St. John’s Church in Batticaloa. This is the main church centre from which Rev. Jeyanesan orchestrates all the various projects and which functions as his home-base.
  2.  Kiran NFC, 60 children, Kiran is a village 27 km north from the St. John’s Centre which was affected by the Indian peace keeping force and later by the Sri Lanka army and special task forces. Many people lost their bread winners, and so many children need help here.
  3. Periyanilavanai Nutritional Feeding Centre has 55 children. Periyanilavanai is a border village between Muslim and Hindu villages and is situated 41 kilometres south from the St. John’s Centre. This Nutritional Feeding Centre is run on a compound together with a church and the Herman’s Girls Home.

These three centres have been running from the February 1st from funds provided by us. At the end of each year, we will be provided with Financial Statements audited by a Chartered Accountant. Monies will be spent solely on these three centres.

The activities going on in the Nutritional Feeding Centres are as follows:

  1. Feeding: the children often do not get more than once a day food. This program allows them to receive two extra meals a day
  2. Preventive medicines and vaccinations. The centres do provide medicines and vaccinations as necessary.
  3. The older children can go to school instead of having to stay at home to take care of the younger ones.
  4.  Nursery education. The children are also receiving some basic nursery education.