Let me take this opportunity to thank you all our dear friends for all the help and support that you have given us thus far and continue to do so to help the affected people in many ways. If not for your timely help and support, I am sure we would not have been able to help so many people as we have done so far.
Friends, we owe you a huge debt of gratitude and we at St. John’s Centre Batticaloa most profusely thank every one of you jointly and severally for every thing that you have done. Please accept our gratitude.
Some of you who were able to visit us here in Batticaloa and Grace Care Centre Trincomalee had the opportunity to see for themselves the devastation caused by the Tsunami and also the relief work that emanated from St. John’s Centre Batticaloa & Grace Care Centre Trincomalee. During this period it is possible that there could have been problems with accommodation and other conveniences.
We might apologetically say that these were beyond our control, mainly due to the influx of Aid Workers suddenly converging at these Centres and the hive of activities in relation to the nature of relief work involved. Please bear with us for any inconvenience caused to any of you.
The Food situation among the Tsunami Victims had not improved appreciably; for, the people have not regained their livelihood and are still unable to fend for themselves. This is mainly due to the fact that the Government had so far not worked out a solid package Plan for the future of these victims. They are merely handing out inadequate rations and therefore the food situation needs to improve.
Having identified this need, we moved towards serving a section of the victims by providing food items as follows:-3820 packets of food items were distributed in two stages – 1850 packets at Periyaneelavanai and the balance 1970 at Vakarai, Ralodai, Vattavan, Kirimichchai & Mavadiodai.
These packages contained more items than the previous packages. We have provided additional Milk Foods with Vitamins as well.
Since last report temporary shelters and semi permanent structures have sprung up in certain areas replacing the tents. This has created a demand mainly for kitchen utensils. We have distributed over 7000 units of Utensils to 850 families and these consisted of cups & Saucers, Plates, Aluminium Wares, Pots, pans, buckets. etc.
Water and Sanitation
Since last report we completed this work that was undertaken in almost 15 villages. The quality of the water had greatly improved but still a few wells are yet to be cleaned up again. We are still in the process of distributing drinking water in keeping with the demand in certain areas. This operation now has been limited to the supply of bottled drinking water.
Clothing and Shelter
As we reported to you earlier we have provided considerable amount of school uniforms to the students and are presently engaged in stitching uniforms for both boys & girls to be distributed in the very near future. This program will take care of the uniform requirements of approximately 8000 students.
We also distributed clothing for adults and other children in six villages in the coastal area. Some of these clothes were new while some were used. These were collected and sent to us by well-wishers.
We also locally purchased underwear mainly for females and distributed these along with the clothing.
We were able to distribute to over 3500 families. We also received one container of used clothes from the Churches of Toronto and Australia. Shelter – Temporary Shelters and semi-permanent shelters have sprung up in few areas replacing the Tents.
However, the temporary shelters are not a solution in the long run for with the on-coming monsoonal season in October-January when the rains come they can be washed away. Therefore the solution is permanent housing.
Even though we were not engaged in constructing temporary shelters we have been effecting repairs to quite a lot of temporary shelters that were very badly leaking and worn off.
With the resources available at our disposal we have already commenced construction of 25 permanent houses in the Trincomalee District and have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Sri Lanka to construct 900 permanent houses.
Medical and Health Situation
The Medical Personnel sponsored by VeAhavta, USA have very successfully concluded their mission and this has greatly reduced the necessity for regular medical clinics. However, we had with us six Medical Personnel from New Zealand and another eight from Australia who were with us for two weeks towards the end of March and beginning of April in Batticaloa. They too were able to assist the local hospitals.
I am very happy to report about the “Mercy Home”, Home for the Elders, sponsored by VeAhavta, USA and put up in Grace Care Centre. Trincomalee will be declared open on the 28th of May 2005. This will house 100 destitute Elders and will have an emergency Elders Medical Unit. This will deal with the elders as well as the children. This is the first of its kind with all facilities to the elders.
Counselling has become an important matter among the Tsunami Victims. The Victims appear to be suffering from many disabilities resulting from the loss of their dear ones, property, livelihood, etc. Rubbing salt to the wounds, there is no concrete package deal from the government for rehabilitation and the victims feel severely let down too. We have around 30 Counsellors mostly trained to visit the victims, console them and to offer them counselling.
We have realized some measure of results in that the victims are gradually coming out of their trauma but not fully overcome as yet. It is our belief that unless the Trauma Victims are provided with permanent housing and livelihood so as to keep them occupied and earn a living for themselves.
This will greatly ease their pain of mind and lessen their burdens and naturally pave the way for peaceful living and thereby there is every possibility that they could be expected to come out of their trauma once and for all.
Currently we are working out a scheme to provide a full package of total relief at least to the most affected victims, of course with a hope that we could succeed in getting them out of their trauma.
We are happy to report that we had two Training Programs for the Trauma Therapists and to other community and social workers. Ms. Irene Kanagy from USA and Dr. Bo Mills conducted series of lectures as Resource Persons.
Education and Child Care
Consequent to the Tsunami disaster there had been a great need for Nutritional Feeding Centres for children. As at end of last reporting period we increased the Feeding Centres to 10 and now opened additional four centres and the total stands at 14 Centres.
The seven camp schools are being managed and serviced by us. Now during the school vacations we propose to improve the standards of these schools. We are happy to report that some of the children in our children homes are willing to serve in these Childcare Centres during their school vacation. This will not only help the children in the refugee camps but also enrich the children’s outlooks from their homes.
As we reported last the Government has still not come up with definite programs of rehabilitation in a meaningful way. However, having been constantly at their doors, we were able to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the government on the 23rd of March 2005 to build 900 permanent houses in the villages of Vakarai, Ralodai, Vattavan, Mavadi Odai and Kirimichchai and its environs which is 75 Kms .to the North of Batticaloa and at Periya Nilavanai village which lies 40 Kms to the South of Batticaloa along the coastal belt in Ampara District. These two areas suffered severe damages by the Tidal Waves.
As we advised earlier Kinder Not Hilfe Germany and the Woord and Daad Netherlands who are our Main Partners in the construction of permanent houses will shortly provide us with the necessary funds to commence the construction. Providing the families with fishing Boats, Nets, Agricultural Tools for them to earn a livelihood is another matter of utmost importance and urgency. It is a challenge before us and we are exploring all possibilities to provide assistance.
We had the privilege of receiving a lot of visitors during this reporting period. There were Medical Doctors, Technical Men, Donors, Well Wishers & others who assisted us, visited the Tsunami victims and contributed much in various ways alleviating the pain of the victims. We appreciate their presence and participation, which is invaluable.
Among the visitors we have had the privilege of the visit by our dear brother Luuk Van Schothorst, Desk Officer, Basic Needs & Emergency Relief of “Woord en Daad”, Netherlands. He was with us during the period 30th March to 4th April 2005.
During this period he visited many projects and refugee camps and was able to see over himself the devastation and the relief operation we undertook St. John’s Centre. He spared no pains to guide us and sets the standards and helped us in many way. His visit was most encouraging, meaningful and a source of strength of us.
We are greatly encouraged. We sincerely thank “Woord & Daad” for his visit. We have also with us Mr. Ruben Wedel, a qualified Mechanical Engineer attached to Tsunami Rehabilitation Group of Asia & Easter Europe Department of the Kinder Not Hilfe , Germany. He will be here with us for some time.
He will guide us and assist us in all relief and rehabilitation work connected with the Tsunami Reconstruction Process. We are grateful to KNH for sending Mr. Ruben to be with us. He is certainly an asset to us.
We thank God for all His mercies and protection during these troubled times. With the help of our brothers and sisters locally and globally we were able to accomplish what we have done so far. Whenever we are involved in the welfare of others, we are mindful of the fact that we are part-takers in building the kingdom of God.
It is again a blessing to be an instrument of God in alleviating the pains of the suffering people. We are glad that we have come to the final phase of rehabilitation process by looking into the possibilities of providing permanent houses and livelihood for these people and with this end in view; we solicit the favour of your continuous support, advice and prayers.
May God bless you all.
Rev. S. Jeyanesan Area Minister & Manager
St John’s Church Uranee,Batticaloa Sri Lanka