Flood-victims at the SOS relief camp in Bihar, Purnia, India
26 December 2004 is a date that will remain etched in our memory forever. Lives lost, lives' work lost and a bleak future. This report is about how SOS Children's Villages helped people to rebuild their lives:
Flood-victims at the SOS relief camp in Bihar - EP Purnia, India
26 December 2004 is a date that will remain etched in our memory forever. Lives lost, lives' work lost and a bleak future.This report from Siddhartha Kaul who is the SOS Continental Director for Asia, is about how SOS Children's Villages helped people to rebuild their lives:
The tsunami was a tragic event, there is no doubt about that, but as with many tragic events it also brought the "inherent goodness of man" to the fore. People sharing what little they had with each other. The outpour of sympathy, goodwill and collective efforts that it generated was quite unbelievable.
SOS Children's Villages had little or no experience of doing such mass scale relief work. But we had a presence in these countries and sometimes even in the specific locations. Our co-workers were willing to share and help and they went out on their own to provide whatever relief they could. Responses were quick and prompt. They ranged from immediate assistance towards temporary housing, trauma centers, and children's centres to financial assistance towards rebuilding lives.
As relief works progressed, the aim of the organisation changed from temporary and immediate relief to helping families to rebuild and take charge of their lives once again. In addition to building permanent homes, we sat down with the communities and identified their needs. In some places what was needed was a kindergarten, in other places a social centre or medical centre, a village headman's office or even high schools. For the kindergartens and social centers we identified youngsters from within the communities and trained them to run these facilities. They are running them today. Schools and medical centres we handed over to our partners, usually the state authorities, to run.
Tsunami relief work was very difficult given the security issues in Sri Lanka, civic conflicts in Banda Aceh/Indonesia and all round poor infrastructure and lack of basic amenities such as water, medical care and virtually no electricity. Distances were long and there was the usual bureaucratic red tape to be dealt with. We succeeded because we worked directly with the community and got them involved at every step of the way. Youth from within the community took a leadership role and helped to keep the harmony. We worked with and through the local people. This ensured timely and cost effective delivery of services.
I believe the future is bright. We have experienced communities that have supported each other in extreme conditions and continue to do so. The community supported by the organisation has developed programmes to support themselves for the coming 3 to 5 years, enabling them to stand on their own.
A prefabricated house of an affected family after floods in Beni, Trinidad, Caribbean
At the end of February 2008 thousands of people feared for their homes and family because of the heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides. Just as it did the year before, SOS Children's Villages set up temporary relief centres for children. This is a report on the situation from the time the floods happened:
Official estimates suggest that more than 73,000 families across Bolivia have been hit by the effects of La Niña in the past weeks. Large areas were flooded just last year, particularly in the lowland areas of the country. Last year, SOS Children's Villages also set up several emergency relief centres for children, and distributed relief supplies.
SOS Children's Villages has set up three temporary community centres in El Alto (in the highlands of Bolivia) and in two districts of Trinidad (in the Department of Beni), which can care for 300 children. Over a period of three months, the children will receive regular meals and medical care, and will be taught and be involved in different educational activities at the centres. In parallel, their parents will receive support and advice, and their communities will be encouraged to show solidarity and take on responsibility. Should it be necessary, the centres will remain open for longer than three months.
The Bolivian lowlands have again been hit the hardest, but the effects of the heavy rainfall over the last few weeks can also be seen in regions at high altitudes, such as the areas on the outskirts of El Alto. There, families have mainly lost their houses in landslides, which have even killed some people.
SOS Children's Villages is working closely with social welfare offices, community committees and other local social facilities in all three locations.