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Volume 8, No. 3WINTER 2005

Tsunami relief shifts to recovery in South Asia

Baltimore, Md. (IOCC) — The response to the massive devastation caused by the tsunami in South Asia one year ago has given way to programs of reconstruction. IOCC, in partnership with the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (OMHKSEA), Church World Service (CWS), and other local organizations, has focused its long-term efforts on the remote, underserved island of Nias.

On March 28, 2005, just three months after the initial tragedy, an earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale struck the predominantly Christian island of Nias in Sumatra. Yorgos Daskalakis, a member of the IOCC team that provided assistance, observed, “[The people] were living in makeshift barracks made out of corrugated metal, and these shelters have now sustained a lot of damage, or have collapsed altogether, because of the second earthquake.”

The cornerstone of IOCC’s continued response to the tsunami is the “Build a Village” program in collaboration with CWS. The project, valued at nearly $500,000, aims to provide comprehensive assistance through the reconstruction of housing, water systems, and public sanitation as well as recreational and educational activities for children, psycho-social services, child and family nutrition, and livelihood recovery (primarily related to agriculture and pastoral families). IOCC is providing the necessary funds to restore an entire village, including the construction of seventy-five houses and all integrated activites.

IOCC’s continued partnership with OMHKSEA’s office of Philanthropy is also leading to the creation of a new community health clinic on Nias, where there is a lack of medical facilities and services. The clinic will be self-supporting via patient’s provision of minimum fees for services and medicines.

It will formally operate under the Greek Orthodox Church’s Medan Foundation, which will have a local clinic director from Nias and doctors from the community to provide services for patients.

Other collaborative projects with OMHKSEA and a local organization called “Tomorrow’s Hope” are focused on vocational training for youth affected by the tsunami. The program will provide internet technology training for 180 young people in the area of Media and equip them for jobs in the computer industry that pay twice as much as labor jobs. “Tomorrow’s Hope” has run orphanages in the area for the past ten years and is currently rebuilding an orphanage that will house 100 tsunami orphans. IOCC will provide the funding necessary to purchase and equip several vocational training programs, including carpentry, computers, bakeries and other skills aimed at giving these children more opportunities for the future.

Within days of the tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, IOCC and its partners began providing life-sustaining assistance to survivors in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. The assistance included nearly 300 medicine kits, each with enough medical supplies for 1,000 adults and children for up to three months; fresh food parcels for people living in temporary camps and private homes on the east coast of Sumatra; thousands of health, hygiene and school kits; and $1.1 million in multi-vitamins, enough to provide 53,000 adults with a daily dose for one month.

With your support in 2005, IOCC has been there to help many of the tsunami victims whose lives have been wrenched apart by unfathomable disaster. With your continued support, we are able to remain in South Asia and elsewhere to help people rebuild their lives with long-term recovery projects.

Tsunami Devastation: the Human Toll

Two months after the onset of the disasters that struck the region, IOCC’s Colin McGinnis was in the area as part of a team monitoring our response. A worker in the guest house where the team was staying shared her story with them. When the Tsunami hit, her husband was at work and she was alone with her two sons, eight and four years old. She tied the eight year old to her back with ropes and clutched onto the four year old. In his journal Colin related her story:

“When the wave hit my house, it smashed everything and my son was stripped from my back. I heard his cries, but I could not reach him. I was thrown and bounced by the water for almost two miles, slammed against floating cars and debris, and when I came to rest, I was in the yard of a small house. I looked down and realized that my other son, whom I had been holding tight all this time, was limp and lifeless — he had drowned.

A week later, my husband saw my picture flicker by on a TV report from the refugee camp where I was living. Now we are together again and trying to figure out how he can get back to work as a fisherman, since he lost his boat. It is very painful, but at least we are left with each other; with help, we will rebuild our lives.”

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