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Six Months After the Tsunami

Six months after intensive emergency response and recovery efforts for tsunami-affected children and families in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, Christian Children’s Fund, is getting people back to work, rebuilding communities, and helping children and families return to normal.

“We already had the infrastructure and staff in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia to respond quickly to families affected by the worst natural disaster in South Asia’s history,” said CCF President John F. Schultz.

“Our first response was providing immediate emergency relief. But we quickly turned our attention to rebuilding and reconstruction. In the midst of helping families regain their livelihoods and rebuild their communities, our focus is still on the children, making sure they don’t fall through the cracks ... making sure that they stay in school and gain life skills needed to face the future.”

Within hours of the tsunami, CCF staff began providing immediate relief assistance to the hardest hit tsunami areas through distribution of food, water and nutrition supplements; along with non-food items such as tents, medicine, hygiene products, clothing, mats and bedding, cooking and eating utensils, first aid kits and safe storage containers for water to help with basic survival needs of affected families. 

Helping Kids Return to Normal

As part of the recovery process for thousands of children and youth severely impacted by the tsunami, CCF has established more than 255 Child Centered Spaces in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia. Children suffered not only the loss of family members, homes and belongings, but also security. The Child Centered Spaces promote child safety and recovery in addition to bringing back a sense of normalcy to children and youth. Close to 40,000 children from 1 to 19 years of age are participating in various activities at the centers.

CCF Child Centered Spaces provide the opportunity for informal education, and they give children and youth a safe space to play and engage in activities such as drawing, singing, dancing, drama and story-telling, helping them express what has happened to them, their families and communities emotionally and begin the transition to more normal routines. In addition to these activities, many Child Centered Spaces serve as a platform for community development and for motivating parents to rebuild for the future.

CCF is training teachers, community leaders and volunteers in child protection, child rights and early childhood development so that they can work with children and youth in the Child Centered Spaces. Locally trained staff have also conducted health and nutrition campaigns in many communities. Youth clubs have been formed for youth 13 to19 years of age to work with younger children in the CCSs. Following training, many of the youth clubs are organizing clean-up campaigns around local schools, mosques, and public facilities in affected communities, building play areas for children, and conducting traditional activities for their communities.

Rebuilding Communities and Their Infrastructure

Significant longer-term interventions underway in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India include restoration of water/sanitation infrastructures including construction and repair of community wells, toilets, and laying water lines to homes and schools. In Sri Lanka alone, CCF has provided water to more than 360 homes and public buildings. In Indonesia, CCF is working with youth to build 70 jambos traditional buildings that serve as central meeting points for communities and youth activities throughout the country.

Putting People Back To Work

CCF has repaired or built fishing boats in India in an effort to get fishermen back on the water. Vocational training for adults and youth is teaching motor and boat repair and construction. CCF is working with farmers in Sri Lanka and India, as part of the cash-for- work program, helping clear debris from rice fields so that farmers can begin farming again. Women have been provided with sewing machines and fabric to make school uniforms for children locally, and have participated in cash-for-work programs clearing debris from communities, and packaging and distributing relief food items to families. 

CCF has completed assessments in Sri Lanka and Indonesia to determine economic revitalization and livelihood restoration program needs, and will base future micro-enterprise development programs on those findings. CCF is also conducting a major assessment of children’s needs at this juncture in tsunami recovery.