After the tsunami, the humedica doctors cared for more than 20,000 injured persons in the north of Sri Lanka. Photo: humedica
A catastrophe which shook the world
The humedica aid measures after the tsunami 2004
It happened exactly ten years ago, on December 26th, when one of the strongest earthquakes ever measured in the Indian Ocean provoked a row of devastating tsunamis. What followed was one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the modern era: 230,000 people lost their lives in the floods, 110,000 were injured, 1.7 million inhabitants of the coastline were without any shelter. These numbers and facts seem unreal, in reality however, they have involved countless painful fates.
Besides the south-east Asian countries Indonesia and Thailand it was especially Sri Lanka, already marked by a civil war, which has been hit by the deadly waves. According to official data, about 35,000 people died in the south and the east of this island state, more than half a million people lost all their belongings, which worsened their already complicated life conditions even more.
A first humedica team reached the country already one day after the catastrophe, in order to care for the thousands of injured persons. Many others should follow and besides medical help, they also brought vital goods into the destroyed areas. As a member of the first field team, humedica managing director Wolfgang Groß still remembers exactly their arrival in the catastrophe region:
“I recall exactly our arrival in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on December 27th. Because of all the precipitance I had forgotten my passport for the first time, but thanks to the friendly support of a staff member in the German Embassy I could however get into the country.
As we have already, for many years, provided humanitarian aid in the civil war region, which at this time was controlled by the so-called “Tamil Tigers”, we entered the contested region by the line of demarcation and cared for the victims of the catastrophe in the extreme north-east of the island, where apart us no other foreign help organizations operated.”
Over the last ten years, humedica has realized help in varied ways, in order to make the way back into a normal life possible for the affected people in Sri Lanka:
Medical emergency and catastrophe help
In the first weeks after the catastrophe, the humedica medical field staff could care for thousands of people in the concerned regions, some of whom were badly injured and could, thus, save many lives. The starting point of the help was the port Point Pedro in the north-east of the Jaffna peninsula, where the tsunami had caused enormous destruction. Until the end of the acute emergency aid phase about 20,000 victims could be treated by humedica doctors.
Distribution of aid supplies
Be it medicine, boats or survival packages: the aid supplies distributed by humedica always fit in with the present needs and we supported the people in things where their need was the greatest.
Thus, shortly after the tsunami, 8,000 affected families were supplied with an emergency aid package which included food, blankets, water disinfectants, cookware and mosquito nets, in order to meet their most important basic needs. Moreover, an ambulance and rescue boat could be bought, to be able to reach the island off the mainland in case of medical emergency.
Further aid supplies deliveries comprised medicine, dressing material, tents and bicycles, as well as the vital cistern vans which ensure the supply of drinking water and thus the flood victims’ health. A special aid supplies program was the distribution of boats, motors and nets to poor fishermen who had been robbed their livelihood by the tsunami and who depended on new working equipment.
Construction of accommodations
Due to the enormous impact of the flood wave, hardly any house in the coast region was left undamaged. In Sri Lanka alone 500,000 people had become homeless from one moment to the other and depended now on external help. Around the port Point Pedro humedica has reconstructed more than 1,000 houses of poor families and in this way enabled them a new start in a protected place.
Reconstruction of schools
The tsunami had not only destroyed many Sri Lankans’ houses but also public institutions like schools or kindergartens. Humedica has been able to rebuild nine educational institutions in the tsunami region and has, thus, laid the foundations for a sound school education of thousands of girls and boys.
An institution which humedica still cares for is the Angel International School Manipay. After its opening in 2006, the school in the town Manipay has cared for the training of the tsunami and civil war victims. Today it teaches 1,200 children according to international standards. The degrees obtained there, present the children all professional possibilities in the future.
Family sponsorship program
In 2005, given the countless families which have suffered much from the consequences of the terrible tsunami, humedica launched the family sponsorship program. This long-time support ensured the basic supply of 300 needy families from the tsunami region by giving them access to food, convenience goods, clothes, health care and education.
The intention of accompanying these people on their way back to normality succeeded and thus, in 2011, the families were able to care for themselves again.
No matter if it was a wound that has been cared for, a bicycle which has been distributed or a new house built: The varied humedica help measures have only been possible thanks to your support, dear friends and sponsors. We want to thank you very much for this long lasting support!
Today, 10 years after the terrible tsunami, the humedica help measures in Sri Lanka are as effective as they have been on the day of the catastrophe. In cooperation with humedica Lanka the German headquarters realizes medical treatment for people without any access to medical care, distributes aid supplies which need the demands, such as wheelchairs or glasses or they make access to school education possible for children.
We still depend on your support for these and further help measures. Please continue standing by the people in Sri Lanka for the next ten years, too, with your precious donation. Thank you very much!
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