Once again we thank you all for your generosity, care and concern for the Tsunami affected people of our region. With your financial assistance and expertise, we were able to offer food, clothing, drinking water and such other basic needs and amenities. This provided some measure of relief to the victims and helped them to come out of their traumatic condition and improved their living standards.Though the expectation of the victims from the Government did not come to fruition they now realize that there are people to help them, and these people are none other than you all.
Since the last report, the situation had not improved much. The Government is yet to come up with a regular plan of foodstuff distribution. Two weeks ago they stopped this and have now recommenced the supply. What is given is insufficient. We were able to help a section of the people in our area. We distributed around 2500 packages of essential food items including infant milk food in two villages, Ralodai 45 KM to the North and Periyaneelavanai 35 KM to theSouth of St John’s Church in Batticaloa .
Utensils and Implements
Since last report, we are now distributing utensils to areas that we have hitherto not reached.. We also distributed a set of implements to each family consisting of an Axe, Crowbar, large knife, Shovel and Coconut scraper for 1000 families, mainly to enable them to take active part in the rebuilding and reconstruction process. These are necessary to clear land for permanent housing and farming activities also.
Water and Sanitation
Despite frequent pumping operations, the salinity in certain wells still remains, but less than before. The experts advised us that this will keep on improving. Therefore we have a programme of periodical pumping operations. In such case we have dug wells in close proximity and have succeeded in getting clean drinking water. We are still in the process of digging more wells.With regard to health and sanitation, things have improved since the last report. We have constructed a few lavatories and even now are constructing a few more in the newly settled areas.
Ample clothing had been distributed since last report. We have distributed 4500 sets of school Uniforms to 15 schools in 10 villages. We are in the process of stitching more school uniforms that are to be distributed outside the area of our Tsunami operations. Besides these we also distributed more than 15000 units of used and nearly new clothing, sent from abroad by some of you to nearly 1350 families in 12 villages.
In this connection it must also be mentioned that very considerable amount money has to be paid out as sewing charges. As we value Child Care and Education as an integral part of our ministry we are continuing with this process to ensure that Children are well clothed and kept happy and also to ensure that Children do not stay at home without attending school for want of School Uniforms.
Having come through the emergency relief, food, clothing, sanitation and temporary shelter, etc, we have now come to another phase i.e.: the problem of permanent houses. This is a burning issue that had to be addressed in an effective and meaningful manner.
As we apprised you in our last report and consequent to signing the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Government to build 900 permanent houses, we have commenced preparatory work such as Land clearing, surveying, blocking out the lots etc and are ready to commence construction work.
We are in communication with our sponsors and are awaiting the release of funds. Some other agencies have already commenced work and therefore, we are under pressure from the Government and the dependant people to start work immediately.
Our problem now is finance. This is particularly so because the Government insists on providing minimum of 500 Sq ft housing units per family which is likely to cost around SLR 520000 or US$ 5200 per unit.
We are pleased to record that our main partners who have come a long way with us in the entire process of Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction, namely:
- Kinder Not Hilfe, Germany,
- Woord En Daad, Netherlands,
- VeAhavta, USA,
- Ceylon Christian Care, Netherlands
- Swiss Contact, Switzerland
All have pledged their continued support to this end.We are very grateful to these institutions and the Brothers and Sisters who are the players in the teams.
Health and Trauma Therapy
We are very glad to report that, the “Mercy Home” building for Elders at Grace Care Centre, Trincomalee has been completed and a final polishing up is underway now and will be declared opened on 28th MAY 2005 by Mr. Eric Parkinson, the Chairman of VeAhavta USA We will be failing in our duty, if we do not mention the fact that the Mercy Home will provide a home with full medical facilities to hundred destitute elders who would otherwise suffer and die on the streets.
This concept was developed by Mr. Eric Parkinson who had personally seen the plight of our elders on the streets. We salute and thank brother Eric and all his colleagues at VeAhavta. This will also establish a permanent medical centre for the area as well. Health and Medical care to the Tsunami victims are being handled by few agencies and the services are very good.
Our trained counsellors in trauma therapy are at work and they have succeeded in their mission. Victims now appear a bit relieved and with permanent housing and livelihood provided, there is every possibilities that they could come out altogether.
Education and Child Care
We are able to see some improvement in the field of education in the affected areas. Government schools have become functional and therefore we closed down 6 camp Schools and at the moment are left with one our camp school.
We have provided exercise books, school bags, pens, instrument boxes etc to well over 1500 students attending regular schools. Not much is needed in this sector at the moment. The attached schedule shows the number of units we have at the moment.
We are pleased to record that the “Herman’s Girls Home” which was razed to the ground is being rebuilt on a new property purchased on the main road at Periyaneelavanai. New Pastor’s residence and the Day Care Centre building work are also underway. We are grateful to the Ceylon Christian Care, particularly to Mr. Herman and Mr. Laurens of the Netherlands.
Permanent housing and providing the means of livelihood is the top priority at the moment. We have not noticed any changes or shift in the Government’s policies or attitudes. It remains the same since the last report. We are at the moment in communication with our main partners listed above.
Livelihood is another burning issue that we identified which draws our immediate attention. Most of the inhabitants affected by Tsunami are fishermen. We have ordered for 75 canoes, the nets and fishing gear and around the middle of this month hope to give out 15 canoes and there by provide livelihood for 30 families, as two men go to Sea in one canoe.
The cost of 1 canoe and fishing gear is approximately SLR 80,000 or US$ 800. In this manner we hope to provide the means of livelihood for about 150 fisher families initially In addition, we have provided 150 Gents and 100 ladies bicycles for needy persons and Students who lost their bicycles. A total of 157 Singer sewing machines too were given to needy persons.
Some of the recipients are using these machines to sew school uniforms for Tsunami relief purposes and thereby earn a substantial income. Some of the bicycles are used by fish and vegetables vendors as well as casual and manual workers to move around to find work. We are trying our best to find the funds necessary to provide a meaningful livelihood. Our main partners have come forward to help these people.Few individuals too have donated toward this.
This is a worthy cause and we solicit the favour of your response please. We are happy to report that we have already worked out a comprehensive on the spot Mobile Vocational Training Centres in the areas of our activities to draw in the village youth and offer them training in skills that are necessary to enhance their own standing as well as the overall reconstruction process of their villages.
Some of you know the activities at St. John’s and Grace Care Centre prior to Tsunami as well as after Tsunami, and those who visited us have seen for themselves the magnitude of relief work done by us. However for the benefit of all concerned, we have attached a schedule that explains itself.
In concluding the report, we thank God for all His mercies. We never thought that we could accomplish so much in so short a period. But God’s grace and guidance, your prayers and support made all the difference. Please bear with us for the lengthy report. We simply wanted you all to have some insight into our activities and operations. We all must be thankful to God for having used all of us to be instruments in His Mighty hands to serve the needy Let me thank you all again.
Please pray for our mission, Ministries and the affected people.
May God Bless You all.
Rev S Jeyanesan Area Minister & Manager.