March 30 2005
All-clear given after earthquake in India and Sri Lanka
29/03/2005 - SOS Children's Village co-workers were able to give the all-clear in India and Sri Lanka after another strong earthquake near Sumatra. All SOS Children's Village projects in the region were unharmed. The inhabitants of the villages which were destroyed on 26 December and which are being rebuilt by SOS Children's Villages were evacuated as a precaution.
The government authorities in Sri Lanka and India issued a tsunami alert in the eastern and southern coastal regions, after an earthquake occurred near Sumatra. Indonesian regions, especially the islands near the epicentre, were most severely affected, and it is feared that many lost their lives.
After the devastating sea surge of 26 December 2004 resulting from an earthquake near Sumatra, this time round the coastal regions of India and Sri Lanka were given a timely alert. The inhabitants of the Indian villages, which are being rebuilt with the aid of SOS Children's Villages, were evacuated to areas at least two kilometres inland. The SOS Social Centres and SOS Activity Centres, which were set up in January as part of the tsunami emergency relief programme, were suitable to be used as temporary shelters for those that were evacuated. According to SOS co-worker Shubha Murthi, even though the official all-clear was given people are still very frightened as a result of the events on 26 December.
Cedric de Silva, director of SOS Children's Villages Sri Lanka, also confirmed that no damage or loss of life has been reported in the coastal areas of the country. The local authorities called upon all organisations, currently offering relief services along the eastern coast to those affected by the tsunami in late December, to evacuate all potentially vulnerable areas. After the all-clear was given in Sri Lanka early in the morning, people were able to return to their temporary shelters.
In India and Sri Lanka, SOS Children's Villages continues to help thousands of people, who lost family members, homes and livelihoods to the sea surge of 26 December, to rebuild their lives. Some 3,000 families, mostly from fishing villages, are being offered extensive, long-term support to independently rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
SOS Children's Villages is rebuilding entire villages, which will include community centres which will be used as kindergartens, schools, health centres and emergency shelters in case of disaster. SOS Children's Villages is providing the locals with temporary accommodation until the construction of new family houses has been completed. Many families were given start-up grants during the first phase of reconstruction. Following this, boats and fishing equipment have been or are being given to groups of families to ensure that they are able to work again and secure a steady income.
Educational, training, nutritional and health counselling programmes will provide assistance to families, particularly single-parent headed, over the next 3 to 5 years, offering support to some 3,000 children. In addition, a number of activity centres provide care for pre-school children and, where necessary, offer psychotherapeutic assistance. Families, adolescents and children are also able to take advantage of a variety of other services at the social centres such as counselling, preventive healthcare, tutoring and training courses.
Three new SOS Children's Villages, in southern India, the east coast of Sri Lanka and in the Indonesian province of Aceh, are planned to provide children who lost their families in the tsunami disaster with a new home.