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Reflecting on the Tsunami, One Year On
CEYLON 051117-1
November 17, 2005

Relief and Rehabilitation Desk Newsletter, November 2005

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

ĒAll this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, not in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime. But let us begin.Ē Ė John F. Kennedy

Dear Friends,

It has been almost one year since the destructive tsunami waves hit the coastal areas of our country, leaving in its wake an unprecedented human tragedy on a scale of epic proportions. The tsunami has changed so much Ė there is not a person in this country whose life was not touched by this tragedy in some way. Ideals and values have been reassessed, priorities have been reanalysed and people have been altered in significant ways.

As we approach the first anniversary of this tragedy it is important that we take a moment to reflect on the way things were and how far we have progressed since then. We at the relief desk felt that we would do this by giving you a brief synopsis of our first days.

The Relief Desk began with minimal facilities and the drive and dedication of a group of young people who had been requested by Bishop Duleep to help him start a temporary relief desk. The desk was up and running within two days of the tsunami by a team of volunteers. Initial efforts focused on daily phone-calls to priests in affected areas to identify needs and supplying relief goods without delay. We then moved onto providing support for the start-up of livelihood projects.

The kind response we received from our friends around the world gave us the confidence and the much needed funds to provide aid to tsunami-victims. Thank you!

As we approach the first year anniversary of the tsunami, it is apparent that so much more remains to be done. With your support and Godís blessings, we are encouraged to move on to the long term projects Ė housing, community livelihood, trauma, child- care and human rights.

Proposals Approved

Repairs to St. Peterís Sunday School building Koralawella
This building was used as a refugee camp for 300 tsunami affected persons for around three weeks. Funds requested for repair, maintenance and colour washing to the building.

Denipitiya Medical Mission
Finances towards the second phase of establishing medical camps and addressing personal welfare of tsunami victims in refugee camps

Eye Camp, Wenamulla
Funds for established a clinic providing vision services and spectacles.

Janawaboda Kendraya
The Diocese has partnered with Janawaboda Kendraya. JK is an interfaith association which recruits and trains leaders within refugee camps to be advocates on behalf of residents of the camps and provide solutions and answers to their problems. DOC sponsored and attended a conference in Colombo attended by nearly 80 participants from refugee camps in the North, South and East. JK is a key component of our programme on Advocacy and Human Rights.

Uduthurai Child Care
DOC has endowed a long-term day-care centre in the North. We will fund staffing for 2 teachers and a daily nutritional meal to up 30 children. The centre is a necessary addition to a community in need of proper child development resources.

Editorís Note: We are very grateful to the Principal of St. Johnís College Jaffna for providing us with an audited statement of accounts for the school twinning programme Ė the first such statement received by the R&R Desk

Human Resources

The Diocesan R&R work would not be possible if not for the dedicated services of our clergy and laity. In an original series for our newsletter, we will profile one of our R&R personnel each month, particularly our youth, to illustrate the quality of our future church and community leaders.

This month we travel to Valaichchenai, located in the North-East and within the Batticaloa district. Valaichchenai is the location of one of the Diocesan boat yards and Ratnarajah Sathiayaraju, affectionately called Sathiyan, is one of the crew members in the yard.

Sathiyan is a 22-year old parishioner of St. Johnís Church, Valaichchenai. Following the completion of his secondary school 3 years ago, he was unable to find employment so was involved in odd jobs and day-work. Following the tsunami, he was one of the first volunteers to assist the affected persons. He was initially involved in the relief efforts of distributing food rations and establishing refugee camps and then helped with rehabilitation projects in the East.

When the need to establish a boat yard was identified, the rector of St. Johnís Church nominated Sathiyan to be part of the group of youth workers. As he took pleasure in being able to help people in his relief work, Sathiyan accepted the offer and spent 4 weeks (with four others) training at the Diocesan boatyard in the South (Hambantota).

Sathiyan tells us that he enjoys making canoes and has been personally involved in making all 58 canoes in the yard. He has made new friends of his coworkers (all youths from the area churches) and hopes to continue working in the yard into the near future.

He is particularly grateful, not only for the additional income to supplement his fatherís salary, which has been a benefit to his family of 4, but for being able to learn a new livelihood and spend his days in a constructive manner.

It is with friends like Sathiyan that the DOCís commitment to uplifting the dignities of tsunami victims is accomplished.

Thank You Sathiyan!

Political Climate in Sri Lanka

Even as the one-year anniversary of the tsunami approaches, much work needs to be done.

All persons, victims or not, are becoming increasingly impatient as they yearn for a return to normalcy in their lives.

In the final days before our Presidential Elections on November, 17, we as Christians hope that the new President will prioritize addressing the vital issues concerning the tsunami affected and devote resources to reducing the pain and suffering of those victims.

Along with our interfaith colleagues, we pray for a free and fair election

Tsunami Concerns Conference

10 months on, it was considered necessary for all clergy and laity working with tsunami affected people to gather and assess the progress of the rehabilitation projects, discuss constraints that hinder their work and be better equipped for future long term projects.

Participation from all districts was favourable, with participants from all the districts of the country.

The 4 main areas up for discussion were:

*Analysis of the current situation and implications for R&R work.
* The Tsunami Lawís special Provisions on Children
* Introduction to disaster management
* Tsunami related challenges for Mission.

The conference was highly successful and we all learned much and drew strength from one another as we shared our experiences and ideas.

Copies of the minutes of the conference can be provided on request.