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Tsunami Relief Program – Three Years Later

  • December 21, 2007

It has been more than three years since a giant tsunami covered parts of Southeast Asia, devastating communities, reconfiguring lands and permanently changing many people’s lives. AmeriCares personnel in two of the hardest hit countries, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, continue to work tirelessly with those who have been affected, with a wide range of programs supporting a diverse array of needs, including health care, school reconstruction, water and sanitation, and livelihoods. 

 Madusha is a student at the Badulla Nursing Training School in Sri Lanka. PHOTO: Tharanga Godallage
 Madusha is a student at the Badulla Nursing Training School in Sri Lanka. PHOTO: Tharanga Godallage

Sri Lanka

 For the past three years, AmeriCares has been integrally involved in rebuilding and strengthening the health care systems in Sri Lanka including the rebuilding of health clinics, supporting maternal and child nutrition programs and upgrading and equipping hospitals.

 Most recently, to help sustain quality health care education in Sri Lanka, AmeriCares partnered with the Ministry of Health’s Department of Nursing to provide resources for 18 nursing schools in the country.  An AmeriCares grant of more than $292,900 provided funding to purchase training equipment, text books and new technology to support students’ studies. The three year project will give nearly 11,000 nursing students opportunities in the field of nursing that were not offered before.

 “We really needed funding to strengthen our nursing training schools,” said Director of Nursing for the Ministry of Health Mrs. Girty Samaranayake. “AmeriCares has played a tremendous role in upgrading our nursing education system in the country.   AmeriCares is the only organization supporting all of the nursing schools in Sri Lanka. We really appreciate it.”

 One student benefiting from the program is 20-year-old Madusha, who has been taking classes at the Badulla Nursing Training School since 2004. 

 “AmeriCares has donated books, anatomical models, computers and furniture for our nursing school. They are really helping to strengthen the nursing education in Sri Lanka,” said Madusha. “Earlier, we only had one copy of some of the reference books, but now we have more copies of these books. Our colleagues in the year behind will be able to make maximum use from these donations and improve the standard of nursing.”


Smiling faces in Indonesia
Smiling faces in Indonesia.
PHOTO: Tom Turley

In a small village on the west coast of Aceh, local women gather to share their stories of the day the giant wave washed away their communities and changed their lives forever. As they retell their tales of survival and loss, their voices evoke a newfound sense of strength, motivation and enthusiasm to rebuild and recover from the tragedy.

 Through an AmeriCares supported health care program, these women are using their energy and drive to rebuild their community for their children. The Aceh Health, Water Supply, and Sanitation (AHWSS) initiative is run by Project Concern International (PCI), a nonprofit health organization. AmeriCares began working with PCI in the months following the disaster and has funded the program with a $2.42 million grant.   

One of the most critical health issues that the program is addressing in the village is malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 20% of children in Indonesia are underweight, many due to nutritional issues. Although most families have enough food, many parents know little about proper nutrition, especially regarding the needs of growing children. The program aims to improve their knowledge by working directly with the families. “Hopefully, in the future, we will never see malnourished children again,” says Fauzia, one of the health care volunteers who work directly with the families.

In addition to the health care outreach program, the AmeriCares-PCI partnership is supporting water supply and sanitation improvements. The three year initiative is helping 60 villages by rebuilding infrastructures as well as strengthening the community’s ability to manage their own health care. In particular, the project focuses on addressing the needs of women and children through education, skills training and intervention designed to change behaviors and bring about positive, sustainable health and sanitation practices.

Looking forward

A medical volunteer measures a young girl's height as part of a health care regimen. PHOTO: courtesy of Project Concern International
A medical volunteer measures a young girl’s height as part of a health care regimen. PHOTO:  courtesy of Project Concern International

Since 2004, the AmeriCares Tsunami Relief Program has provided relief in Indonesia

and Sri Lanka

valued at more than $37million.

“AmeriCares remains committed to continuing our tsunami recovery programs in Sri Lanka and Indonesia,” said Rachel Granger, vice president of partnership management and tsunami relief programs. “Our efforts in collaborating with the government ministries and local partners have impacted tens of thousands of tsunami survivors, improving their day-to-day lives and restoring their hope for the future. We look forward to continuing this important work.” 

Learn more about AmeriCares work in the tsunami affected areas.