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Annual Review 2005

Rebuilding for the future

Speed, in the course of an emergency, is vital. However, those affected by natural disasters including tsunamis, earthquakes and droughts need support over weeks, months and even years. The largest operation of this kind carried out by SOS Children was in response to the South Asian tsunami of 2004, where over 23,000 people have received support and 800 children, orphaned by the tsunami, will find love, security and a new family in six new SOS Children’s Villages in the region.

Despite the difficult conditions at the time, Cedric de Silva, National Director of SOS Children Sri Lanka commented: “We never thought that we could reach this many people so quickly.” Reconstruction is progressing step by step. SOS Children has the advantage of having well-established local links and many years of experience working in partnership with local communities. “The people are trying to come to terms with the situation and they find ways and means to begin anew, however humble their attempts may be,” says Shubha Murthi, Regional Director of SOS Children for South Asia.

Speed is vital in an emergency, as are lifelong partnerships. (Children in our care in Indonesia)

Fifteen communities in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Thailand were ‘adopted’ by SOS Children and almost 2,200 houses are under construction for 11,500 people. Over 1,120 families benefited from the provision of 343 fishing boats together with all necessary equipment to survive and rebuild their livelihoods.

Day care centres provided child care support, allowing parents to start rebuilding their lives. Multi-purpose community centres will take over this role by housing nurseries. 18 centres are due for completion by the end of 2006 and, alongside child care, will offer medical services, training and family support. These are being built in such a way that they can serve as safe shelters in the event of another flood. Once completed and operational, the administration of the centres will be handed over to the communities, empowering the local people and ensuring the sustainability of the projects.

The goal now is to arrive at a tangible outlook for the future, brick by brick.

Over 73,000 people were killed and thousands made homeless on 8 October 2005 as a result of an earthquake that ripped through Kashmir.The SOS Children’s Village Muzzaffarabad in northern Pakistan was badly damaged but fortunately no children were injured.

SOS Children provided over 1,000 tents for temporary shelter to families during the harsh Kashmir winter and into 2006. Following the disaster, tented hospitals supported immediate efforts in the mountainous region, which did not have a single permanent hospital, assisting 120,000 people and SOS ‘Search and Rescue’ teams looked for unaccompanied children, orphaned or separated from their families. As a result of our work, the Pakistan and Kashmir authorities appointed us the temporary legal custodian of all unaccompanied children after the earthquake. Some children have been reunited with their families while others are cared for at a number of SOS Children’s Villages and shelters in and around Kashmir.

Of a total of 11,500 schools in and around Muzaffarabad, 10,000 were destroyed. Some SOS tents were used as temporary schools, while future plans are to build permanent schools. Additional plans include new SOS Children’s Villages providing a long term future to children who lost everything on that fateful day.

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