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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Tsunami disaster latest - the importance of psychosocial care

ReliefWeb - Document Preview:: Source: ActionAid, Date: 13 Oct 2005
Nearly nine months after the tsunami, the tears have not gone away.

Talk is of the transition from the immediate relief phase to longer-term recovery. Physical progress is certainly visible along the coastlines affected by the tsunami.

But Sumanthi, a mother of two from Karativu in Ampara District in East Sri Lanka, does not have the luxury of that perspective.

Sumanthi is still living in a temporary shelter near Karativu. Up to 15,000 died in Ampara District -- half of Sri Lanka's total death toll. All that is left now on the coastal strip of land is the ghostly foundations of once solid homes.

"The tsunami took my only son Raj. He was 15", Sumanthi weeps, motioning to Raj's portrait hanging on the flimsy shelter wall.

Sumanthi's family were not the poorest of the poor before the tsunami. They lived well by Sri Lankan standards, owning two adjacent houses, a motorboat for fishing and a small shop. All of this, along with cash savings, was washed away with their son.

The family currently relies on cash-for-work. The Government gave the family 2,500 rupees (£15) initial compensation in January. No further money ever arrived. They have no idea where they will be able to build a new house, or how they will afford it.

"Even if the government let me back onto our old land, I wouldn't want to go back. I have already lost one child, I can't lose another", Sumanthi says.

In the camp at Karativu, deep emotional wounds have yet to heal, compounded by the continuing uncertainty around future housing and jobs.

That's why ActionAid-trained workers continue to spend time in the camp to offer support, engagement, and a listening ear to people like Sumanthi.

Exactly how community support workers can facilitate post-disaster psychosocial recovery is the subject of ActionAid's innovative training programme which has so far trained nearly 1000 people in the tsunami affected areas of Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and The Maldives.

Our main objectives

ActionAid has operations in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Somalia and the Maldives. Applying our core principles of working with poor people, local partners and organisations to target and address the causes of poverty, we have identified four main objectives for working effectively with tsunami victims.

- meeting basic needs (food, non-food items, shelter, and education of affected families)
- to reduce the negative psychosocial effects of the tsunami
- helping people rebuild their lives, their communities and livelihoods
- working with and on behalf of poor and marginalised communities, and ensuring foundations for a more secure future
- monitoring aid so that it flows to the poorest and most marginalised people

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