December 6 2005
1 year after tsunami: Rebuilding for the future of the children
Children were among the most vulnerable victims of the 26 December 2004 tsunami which caused widespread devastation in South Asia. The ongoing relief and reconstruction efforts of SOS Children's Villages in the tsunami-hit regions of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand, aim at rebuilding the livelihoods of affected families and ensuring a future for the children.
(6 December 2005) - It is still too early to speak of normalcy in the tsunami-hit regions of South Asia, but families affected by the disaster are showing tremendous courage and willpower to rebuild their livelihoods. "People are trying to come to terms with the situation and they are finding ways and possibilities to begin anew, however humble their attempts may be," said Shubha Murthi, the regional director of SOS Children's Villages in South Asia.
Logistics, authorities, regulations and the extent of the destruction are still causing difficulties, but the relief and reconstruction work of SOS Children's Villages are nevertheless progressing steadily and thousands of families are being helped. "We never thought that we could reach this many people so quickly," said Cedric de Silva, the director of SOS Children's Villages in Sri Lanka.
Families and children receiving help from SOS Children's Villages are mostly from fishing villages in the tsunami-hit regions, and have been affected in various ways: in some cases, the mother or father or both parents of the children have perished. In other cases, the houses and belongings of the families were washed away, including the fishing boats with which they earned a living. Therefore, the relief efforts of SOS Children's Villages are multifaceted.
The largest undertaking of SOS Children's Villages is the rebuilding of 15 tsunami-hit communities in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand. This includes the construction of 2,195 family houses for 11,500 people, of which 450 will be completed by the end of 2005, and 18 community buildings which will be used as medical centres, social centres, and kindergartens. These community buildings were constructed to also serve as safe shelters in the case of another flood disaster.
SOS Children's Villages also provided 343 fishing boats, including fishing equipment, which are being shared and used by 1,120 families. "Generally, people have overcome their fear of the sea and can get on with fishing as they did before. This is an important source of income for many of the coastal families," said Cedric de Silva.
In addition, six children's villages will be constructed - one in Sri Lanka, two in India and three in Indonesia - providing homes in a family environment for up to 800 children who cannot be reunited with their families or relatives. A provisional children's village is currently in operation in Pondicherry, India, and is providing care for 26 children.
SOS Children's Villages has been carrying out humanitarian work and is well-established with local staff in Sri Lanka since 1980, in India since 1964, and in Indonesia and Thailand since 1971. Therefore, the organisation was able to provide emergency relief to some 23,000 people in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami. This aid included relief packages of food and water, start-up help in the form of cash, clothing, kitchen utensils, and temporary shelter. Additional support for families was also offered in eleven day-care centres for children, which provided basic emergency relief and psychological support. SOS Children's Villages is active in 132 countries and territories. 438 SOS Children's Villages and 346 SOS Youth Facilities provide more than 59,000 children and youths in need with a new home. More than 131,000 children/youths attend SOS Kindergartens, SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools and SOS Vocational Training Centres. Around 397,000 people benefit from the services provided by SOS Medical Centres, 115,000 people from services provided by SOS Social Centres. SOS Children's Villages also helps in situations of crisis and disaster through emergency relief programmes. For more information please contact
Ms Doris Kirchebner
Tel: (+43) 512 3310 5171
Ms Adriana Pontieri
International Press Officer
Tel: +43 1 368 2457 2185