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Relief and Rehabilitation Desk Newsletter [International]
 
CEYLON 050120-1
January 20, 2005

Weekly Newsletter No 2 [for partners] - Diocese of Colombo

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] OVERVIEW

Many significant happenings have taken place over the past week in terms of both short term relief work and long term rehabilitation. During this time, we have seen a debt moratorium granted to Sri Lanka by the Paris club of creditor nations, visits by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Canadian President Paul Martin and other distinguished heads of state. Local and International aid in diverse forms continues to come in.

Bishop Duleep and Geetha have now travelled to all affected areas in order to express solidarity and obtain first hand knowledge of the situation there. Last week they travelled to Hambantota and Ampara. The Ampara District in particular is one of the worst affected areas but information reaching us is inadequate. We also continue to send interfaith youth groups to affected areas to help in clean up operations. In addition the relief and rehabilitation desk is discerning a number of programmes ranging from psycho social help to rebuilding. These programmes are listed in greater detail in the report.


STATISTICS

Statistics as of 18th January 2005

Dead – 30,922
Missing – 5565
Injured – 15,196
Displaced Persons – 437,482
Displaced Families – 84,612
No. Of Camps – 370

Note: These figures are tentative and presented here as reported by the respective District Secretaries
Source: The Centre for National Organisation



NEWS
Listed below are a number of initiatives undertaken by government and non government sectors, lists of things urgently needed as at this moment in time and other important information.

Urgent Needs
Tents
House hold items – resettling family packs.
Toys and drawing/painting material for children
Building Equipment –we soon anticipate the need for builders –masons, carpenters etc. but will let you know.
Professional trauma counsellors

NOTE: Donations of used clothes in bad condition have caused a great deal of indignation, humiliation and hurt among those in affected areas. They have even resorted to public burnings of such clothes. Government Initiatives Govt. Bank account for funds
A new bank account has been set up by the government for donations. Any donations intended for the state sector must be forwarded to this account. Details are as follows -
Name – Presidents fund for disaster relief – Peoples Bank Headquarters Branch.
Account Number – 204 100 190 136245 (Current Account)
Swift Code – PSBKLKLX
Sort Code – 204 – 7135

In addition to this, the government has given special permission for those with relief supplies to be delivered directly to affected areas. However this must be done in consultation with the Centre for National Operations. They can be reached on +94 11 4740232-6 (Tel) and`+94 11 4740231 (Fax)

Government Nation Building Action Plan
The President has said that a comprehensive action plan to rebuild the nation will be released to the public by the end of the month. The detailed action plan will be implemented from early February.

Children

Orphaned Children
UNICEF has said that almost 1000 children have been orphaned by the tsunami. These findings are related to children in 457 camps. These are only initial estimates as they have not been able to document the children within the communities as yet.

Art Exhibition
An Art exhibition by internally displaced children will be on display at the National Art gallery from the 15th to the 18th. The title of the exhibition is “Tsunamiyen Mathuwu Kirikawadi” (Talents discovered after the tsunami). The objective of the exhibition is to allow the children an outlet to express their feelings.

Reconstruction

Hambantota
Rehabilitation work on 4 towns and 16 villages in the Hambantota District will commence on the 20th. The towns and villages are on the stretch of land between Tangalle and Hambantota.


PROGRAMMES OF THE DESK

Relief and Rehabilitation Programmes -- A Summary

Clean Up Camps – 2 weekly interfaith youth teams are being dispatched to help clean up areas affected by the Tsunami. The purpose of these efforts is not just to fill the practical need of cleaning out the rubble; it also serves as a way for youth to show solidarity with those affected by the devastation, and it further presents us with a fragile but sacred opportunity to share experiences, build relationships and make something positive out of the present situation. This programme will gradually phase out into local initiatives.

The team that went to Galle (the South) cleaned up 8 houses, 12 wells, a school and an entire village. The team that went to the East (Valachchenai) cleaned up 4 houses, a school and a church. Over last weekend (14th - 16th January) two more teams left for Batticoloa (East) and Hambantota (South). Clean up teams have not been dispatched to the North, as yet.. Fr. Nesakumar, our Archdeacon of Jaffna, will inform us when we could do so.

Tsunami Coordinators – In order to help meet the current surge of work and responsibility, The Diocese is taking steps to appoint four Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation Coordinators to work under the four Archdeacons. The Coordinators will be provided a motorbike, a mobile phone and a monthly allowance for a period of six months. The Northern co-ordinator has already been appointed and is undergoing training.

Counselling Programmes –The Desk is in touch with a number of local and international Counsellors and Psychiatrists who have offered their help and expertise. We are in the process of designing and coordinating training programmes in aspects such as Counselling, Trauma Counselling, Community Rebuilding, Bereavement, Drama-Therapy, child therapy which will address the different needs of those affected. The training programmes will be designed for different groups – priests, community leaders, teachers, trained counsellors, volunteers. The aim of these programmes will be to help local communities support themselves. We are in touch with the College of Psychiatrists.

The most extensive Counselling programme set up through the Diocese has been in the Jaffna Archdeaconry. Our Girls Home– Karunanilayam – situated in Killinochchi (LTTE controlled area) will be used as a counselling centre that hopes to run counselling programmes 7 days of the week. The programmes lined up so far are:
1) A two-month intensive training programme to train 50 ‘befrienders’ from within the affected communities.
2) Training Teachers to deal with students who might be traumatised. These will be short workshops and will be held before school re-commences.
3) Another weekend programme was completed for 30-40 persons in Trincomalee. Similar programmes are being organized for the Southeast and East.

Children – the plight of children has been probably the most heart-breaking aspect of this tragedy. Statistics vary, but it could be said that approximately 400 children have lost both parents. The State is taking prompt measures to protect these children by enforcing strict regulations with regards to the future of these children. Currently, adoption is not possible. All efforts of finding parents have to be exhausted before adoption becomes an option. As far as possible, children are being housed with relatives. Institutionalisation is a last resort. The Church has opened the doors of its institutions, schools and hostels to these children, however, we are still to receive a response from the authorities.

Rebuilding – Since Re-location has to take place requiring land acquisition all rebuilding efforts are being co-ordinated by the government sector/professionals. We currently await a comprehensive Action Plan to Rebuild the Nation which will be released by the Government to the public shortly. In the interim, many housing/building schemes have been discussed and proposed. The Church is continuing in dialogue with the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects and the Central and local authorities in this regard.

Information and Documentation – As people move out of the first crisis phase, and start taking steps to re-build their lives, the need to gather lost personal documentation gains importance. Questions about Birth Certificates, Passports, ID cards, Educational and Marriage Certificates, Title Deeds are becoming urgent. The Desk is looking into ways of easing this problem – both by providing reliable answers to questions asked and also helping with the process of documentation. We are currently gathering information and networking with the authorities in order to facilitate this process.


OVERSEAS HELP

There has been an outpouring of concern and help from abroad. Trying to find our way through this new situation, we too are daily learning how to better match your generosity and interest with the needs of our people.

Twinning Programmes - Many of you have inquired about potential ‘twinning projects’ – taking on the responsibility continuous support of a church community or a school. Some possibilities are being discussed, but you must be patient as conversations with parishes/decision making local communities take time. We also need to work on a mutually supportive policy and ensure that these twinning programmes will be compatible with the wider mission and witness of the church.

Freight - There have been many inquiries about sending consignments of relief items to Sri Lanka. We welcome and appreciate such a response. The Bishop is able to receive and clear
consignments free of the normal duties. We ask that you observe the following guidelines in the future.
** All consignments must be sent in the name of the Bishop of Colombo and a clear description of the contents given.
** Please do not include goods/parcels for other parties in the consignment that is sent in the name of the |Bishop. In order to clear the consignment, we will need to be given a breakdown of what the consignment contains and an assurance that all that is sent is for distribution through the church.
** The procedure of obtaining waiver from the authorities for each consignment is time consuming, and if the papers reach us over the week end, we have to wait till the Monday as Government offices are closed. Consequently, the Relief desk needs to be informed of pending consignments and sent the necessary documents via e mail attachment well in time .
** There have been some instances that the first indication we have had that a consignment has been sent to us is that it will arrive that day!! Please note that with immediate effect we will not be able to clear any consignment that is sent without prior notice given to us.

Cash Donations – should be sent to the following account.
The Bishop of Colombo
Account No – 01-102324-01
Standard Chartered Bank
Fort Branch – Colombo
SWIFT ADD – SCBLLKLX

Please inform us at the Desk when you dispatch the money. Send us your full name and address, so that the Diocese will be able to send you an official receipt via surface mail. Also if you alert the bank that this is a relief donation, bank charges will be waived.

Visits – We are aware that many of your wish to express your concern through your physical presence here. We welcome small groups of 2-3 individuals, however, talk with us beforehand, so that we might be able to appraise you on the appropriateness or the timing of your visits – in these sensitive times. Please do not arrange to visit and then inform us!

We would also appreciate if visits are goodwill visits meant to express solidarity with the Churches only. The mission and witness of the Church in this country must be left primarily - and most particularly, at this time - to the local churches, who are now learning to do so with sensitivity to the poor and vulnerable people of all religions. In the present crisis, the Church is compelled to work in collaboration with the State, different religious groups and with various other reputed organizations (both secular and religious). It is mandatory that all visiting groups ensure that the trust between these organizations must not be broken so that we can continue to focus all our energies on the sufferings of the people in the Tsunami crisis.