VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA OF LOS ANGELES

SRI LANKA RELIEF FUND

 MARCH 2005 UPDATE

In March 2005, Volunteers of America of Los Angeles Sri Lanka Relief Fund returned to Sri Lanka to continue providing emergency food and water, as well as other short term aid, which was still badly needed in tsunami affected areas. In addition, plans were established to work with local charitable organizations to provide long term aid  in the areas of childrens services, livelihood restoration, job training and housing reconstruction.

Here are some of the highlights of relief efforts undertaken during this time:

While a significant amount of aid has been promised for the relief effort by many countries, organizations and individuals, people living in affected areas remained in dire need of food and water.  As such, we distributed significant amounts of food and water directly to people in need though out almost all affected areas of Sri Lanka - from Colombo south to Hambantota on the south/southwest coast, as well as Trincomalee to Ampara on the east coast.  

One of the main problems at this time remains the lack of permanent housing for people displaced by the tsunami.  Many thousand families are living in tents and other temporary shelters which provide only minimal protection from the elements - rain, heat, mud, etc.  In addition, these temporary living conditions often have no or minimal outside light and offer no privacy for the often extended families that live together in a single tent.  Unfortunately, it will be several months for permanent housing to be ready for many of these people.  In order to help resolve this problem, we made a grant to Plan Sri Lanka to assist with the reconstruction of housing in the Tangalle and Hambantota areas.

Fortunately, in areas where schools were not destroyed, children have returned to school.  This is quite helpful as it allows children's attention to be turned to more positive thoughts, allowing them not to dwell on the negative memories of the tsunami.  Unfortunately, though, in many areas, schools were destroyed and need to be rebuilt.  We plan on partnering with Shiva Charity, an organization rebuilding schools in Sri Lanka, to sponsor a nursery school in the Ampara area.  This school will provide a safe, caring environment for many children and will help their families recover from the effects of the tsunami in this heavily damaged area of Sri Lanka.

In an effort to ease their pain and help them recover, we have also made direct grants to a handful of individuals that have suffered great losses from the tsunami.

We are working on funding a program that will offer micro-loans to individuals who lost their livelihoods due to the tsunami.  We are hopeful that this will be established shortly and will help these individuals return to their businesses as soon as possible.

As has always been the case, aid was distributed to nearly all areas in need and to those of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.


PHOTOS OF MARCH 2005 RELIEF EFFORT ACTIVITY

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