20 December 2005
Tsunami: One year on, the storm still rages
26 December will be a painful anniversary for Ramanaiah.
Although he escaped from the waves when the Tsunami struck, his
pregnant wife could not run away. He tried to carry her to safety
but the water was too deep and too powerful. Their south Indian
village had no road and there was no quick route to escape the
tsunami, or to bring relief supplies in the aftermath. Survivors
like Ramanaiah were left with no means to support themselves or
their remaining family members.
The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) was one of the first charities to launch an emergency appeal in December 2004. As a result, MRDF received over £1.4 million in donations and grants, its biggest ever response to an appeal. Local partner organisations in India and Sri Lanka have used this money to provide much-needed long-term support such as boats, fishing nets and trauma counselling.
Isabelle Carboni, from MRDF, has recently returned from visiting south India: 'The people I met were overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers. One woman hugged me tightly, saying: 'No one else came, no one helped us; you were the only ones here with us and you saved us from our sadness'. MRDF partners were there from the beginning, sharing people's suffering and working day and night to bring relief to these remote villages. Villagers told me how this gave them hope that, even after a tragedy of this scale, they could rebuild their lives'. Isabelle is available for interview and has brought back stunning images from her visit, which can be viewed at: www.methodist.org.uk/do wnloads/ne_posterlandscape_1205.pdf.
In Ramanaiah's village, rebuilding is underway, with the help of MRDF partner Christian Weaker Section Development Society (CWSDS). One of the top priorities has been to build a new road and villagers have contributed their own time and resources to its construction. Ramanaiah says: 'This road is our joyÉFor a whole week, everyone worked on the road, old and young, every family. We discussed it with CWSDS and when they promised the money it came immediately.'
MRDF is now offering churches the opportunity to contribute to the long-term rebuilding and to find out how their donations are making a difference. Isabelle comments: 'Much has been achieved, but a year is a short time to replace all that was lost. It is clear already that small amounts of well-targeted support from the UK can make a huge difference, but the impact of the Tsunami will carry on long after this December.'