On December 26, 2004, a powerful undersea earthquake generated a deadly tsunami in Southeast Asia. Waves up to 100-feet high killed 230,000 people in 14 countries and destroyed towns, villages, roads and cropland.
In the days and weeks following, Americares quickly delivered seven emergency airlifts of medical aid and relief supplies for survivors in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. But our work didn’t end there.
In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, AmeriCares delivered 60 tons of lifesaving medicines, emergency supplies and water purification treatments worth approximately $12 million to Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. AmeriCares initial airlifts were followed by a comprehensive, long-term commitment to help restore health and hope to the survivors of this terrible tragedy.
An unprecedented outpouring of support allowed us to establish a long-term presence in the region and undertake our largest relief effort to date, investing more than $45 million over 10 years to rebuild hospitals, water systems, schools and livelihoods for survivors.
We established a field office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to oversee rebuilding of critical health facilities, including a $1 million project for a general hospital in northeastern Sri Lanka.
“AmeriCares is a great organization. We have had a very good partnership. We were able to identify priority areas for them to support us. The administrative cost is low and the cost benefit is very high, so the total money spent goes to the project, which I have not seen in other organizations. The people in Sri Lanka benefited very much.”
With more than $45 million of resources, AmeriCares helped to rebuild clinics and hospitals, delivered lifesaving medicines and supplies and trained health care workers throughout the region. We selected projects based on the carefully assessed needs of the affected communities, the impact on each community, and the cost-effectiveness of each investment.
In 2009, AmeriCares completed a $3.2 million addition onto the District Base Hospital at Elpitiya, doubling the number of beds and adding the first private delivery rooms in the region. The four-story addition included two operating rooms, a blood bank and a blood bank. We also fully equipped the new wing with the necessary medical equipment and furniture.
In 2012, we completed an 83,000-square-foot addition onto the Trincomalee District General Hospital that adds 250 beds, operating rooms, a laboratory complex and a neonatal intensive care unit. The $2.8 million project expands the hospital’s capacity to treat patients in an area ravaged by the 2004 tsunami and the long-running civil conflict that ended in 2009.
In June 2012, AmeriCares broke ground on its third and final hospital project in the country – a major addition to the Mullaitivu District General Hospital in northeastern Sri Lanka. The $1 million project added a 53-bed surgical ward with two operating rooms, recovery area, intensive care unit and a central sterilizing facility for all of the hospital’s equipment and supplies. The project also included housing for medical staff.
$45 million of resources made it possible to rebuild clinics and hospitals, delivered lifesaving medicines and supplies and trained health care workers throughout the region.
Americares Recovery Director
During our visit to camps for the displaced, a poor widow lay listless in the dirt waiting for help; suffering from fever and malnutrition. Her small, frightened children surrounded her. We were quickly able to negotiate transport for her to the local hospital for urgent care. At that moment, it re-affirmed what AmeriCares is all about – helping vulnerable people in their dire time of need.
Americares Relief Worker
We used to have two or three children per bed and no separate units for infectious and non-infectious disease. We had a lot of chronic diarrhea. Now we have the beds we need and we can stop the spread of those diseases. Thank you AmeriCares!
ISHANNA PUNCHIHEWA, NURSING OFFICER, TRINCOMALEE DISTRICT HOSPITAL