|Relief and Rehabilitation Desk Newsletter - January 2006
February 16, 2006
From the Relief and Rehabilitation Desk
[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon]
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
The Relief and Rehabilitation Desk
On the 26th of December, the coastal regions across the island commemorated the tsunami in ways that were appropriate to those areas. It was undoubtedly a difficult day for many. Many events were truly led by families and communities. Here is a small sample of them.
In the Southern Archdeaconry, a team of inter-religious clergy visited three refugee camps in the Egodu-Uyana area to provide victims with an outlet to express their thoughts and grief. Government officials joined the team to distribute hampers of dry rations.
In the Eastern Archdeaconry, a moving solemn Eucharist in Trincomalee involved the lighting and placing of candles all along the edges of the church. During the evening, members of the community lit oil-lamps along the main roads.
In the Northern Archdeaconry, the residents of Mullithivu decided to designate a damaged church as their local tsunami monument. Both Hindus and Christians gathered at this damaged structure and conducted a multi-religious memorial ceremony.
At the mother church of the Diocese, the Cathedral organized a requiem mass to coincide with the National moment of silence at 9:30am (when the first waves struck our coastline).
The Diocese has also undertaken a Memorial project. Traditionally, many memorials also double as utilities instead of purely symbolic monuments. Thus, the Diocese has opted to build, and ensure maintenance of, bus stands, public toilets, and agro-wells in the names of the deceased in high-density areas in affected communities.
Home Gardening Project
A Hikkaduwa-based cooperative was funded to launch a community based livelihood programme. Nearly 110 homes in the area are trained to cultivate vegetables and fruits for their personal consumption using organic fertilizers. The tsunami-affected families are also educated on composting and environmentally friendly methods of waste disposal.
The Diocese met the need for 34 more bicycles in the Eastern city of Trincomalee
To address the inadequate medical service to some tsunami-affected areas, the Diocese purchased three fully-equipped ambulances for donation to three rural hospitals in the North,South and East.
Boats, Engines and Gear
An unexpected request for three fishing boats and equipment was approved for Uduththuai in the North.
With the heavy rains in the past two months, many tsunami-affected refugee camps as well as area schools and private homes were affected. The Diocese supported 'relief' efforts once again to address these urgent needs.
The R&R Desk recently established a Housing Committee to guide the Diocesan housing construction efforts, as it has been a difficult project to embark. We are lucky to have the services of those an acute knowledge of the tsunami reconstruction situation in Sri Lanka. They have been a great asset to our programme.
The Diocesan R&R work would not be possible if not for the dedicated services of our clergy and laity. 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 Galle, located in the Southern part of the island. Galle is the regional centre for the Diocesan operation in the South. A member of the able team at the regional R&R office is 21-year old Kushan Sanjeeve.
Kushan began his service to the Diocese last March with a referral from his parish priest who was aware of Kushan's work with his local government and an interreligious group in relief efforts.
Prior to the tsunami, Kushan enjoyed his work at a mercantile firm after his A-levels but felt moved to work in R&R programmes with the Diocese.
As part of his charge, Kushan assists all the clergy in the South to process requests, verify eligibility and administer rehabilitation programmes.
Kushan told us that he takes great pleasure from his post and is grateful for the exposure to varying economic and social classes in the area and being able to assist these communities.
In the past 10 months, he has refined his skills in patience after working in the sometimes-frustrating yet essential responsibility of coordinating the tsunami efforts in the area. Although he has been
faced with criticism while occasionally having to deny requests, he is usually overwhelmed by the kind appreciation from tsunami victims the Diocese has been able to support.
Kushan is the eldest of two boys in a single-income family where his father in disabled and his mother works as a supervisor at a garment factory.
His dedication is such, that he spends his weekdays at a local church and travels home to his family every weekend (some 90 minutes away).
Given his sincerity while assiting tsunami victims, we were not surprised when Kushan admitted to toying with the idea of joining the priesthood in the future.
Thank you Kushan!
Political Climate in Sri Lanka
In recent weeks, news of the escalation of hostile acts in Sri Lanka has reached our friends around the World. We thank you for your thoughts and prayers and share your concern far a halt to the violence and the dawn of lasting peace in our land.
We hope that those in power will realize that a country which has suffered through many wars and a devastating tsunami cannot afford to be dragged into another unnecessary tragedy.
We ask for God's guidance and direction that those in power will be lead peacefully to the negotiating table.
One of our major partners in the Diocesan R&R work is Episcopal Relief & Development, USA (ERD).
ERD contacted the Diocese soon after the tsunami with offers of assistance, as they did with all affected countries.
In late November, ERD sponsored a workshop in Bangkok for all their partners with delegations from North India, South India, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka to share ideas, explain best practices and learn from each other's approaches.
It was a conference from which we gained a wealth of knowledge and will report more next month.
Given our consistent problems with our email system we opted to switch providers. Our new email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will make the transition over the next few weeks. Thank you for your cooperation and patience.