A statue representing fishing in Indonesia
This is a report on the Emergency Relief Effort, from 5 years after the Boxing Day tsunami:
The Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 affected millions of people. SOS Children was working in all the countries affected before the earthquake, and is still working in them today, many with increased programmes as a result of the tsunami. This article summarises the work that SOS Children has done in the affected countries since the tsunami hit five years ago:
Five years after the tsunami disaster, SOS Children's Villages' President Helmut Kutin sums up the situation: "We have kept our promise of helping people who have been affected by this catastrophe - especially the children". Kutin also stresses that SOS Children's Villages has a responsibility for these children and that the projects in the former disaster areas are modeled to provide support for the long run.
On 26 December of 2004, massive tidal waves destroyed long stretches of coastal area around the Indian Ocean. In its wake, the tsunami left more than 220,000 people dead, immense damages and millions of heavily traumatised people forced to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones and fearing for their very existence.
Five years later, the damage caused by the tsunami - at least the physical damage - is barely visible in some places, as is the case in Thailand. In other countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia, much repair work remains to be done. In an almost Herculean effort, those affected by the disaster have taken their lives into their own hands once more in the course of the last five years. Many had to restart from scratch and learn to deal with the haunting, terrifying memories of those dreadful days.
Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of donors the world over, SOS Children's Villages launched the most extensive emergency aid and reconstruction programme in the history of the organisation within the first days of the aftermath, which gradually became a long-term effort. Acute emergency aid for some 20,000 people was followed by several mid- to long-term reconstruction programmes and the construction of 2,230 family houses for some 11,000 people and the acquisition of 343 fishing boats.
Early in 2008, almost all construction projects in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand had been completed, including 18 multifunctional centres and two schools that were handed over to the communities. The social services they offer, such as daycare centres, professional training courses, family and health counselling, are benefitting thousands.
At many locations, SOS Children's Villages still retains project ownership, but will soon cede the responsibility for them to others. Sri Lanka in particular is home to a series of social programmes dedicated to the holistic support of hundreds of families. These programmes are still run by SOS Children's Villages, but will presumably be taken over by the respective communities as of late 2010.
Six SOS Children's Villages (two in India, one in Thailand and three in Indonesia) were built to accommodate children who either lost their parents to the tsunami or whose families have become dysfunctional either as a direct consequence of it or for other reasons. Today, some 700 children are growing up in these villages.
In addition to the long-term care for children in the SOS Children's Villages, SOS family strengthening programmes and SOS social centres have been put in place in many communities. More than 3,600 children and adults are currently receiving a range of different services as support. The launching of several additional programmes, like the one planned in Komari, Sri Lanka, is scheduled for 2010.