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A woman and child in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Batticaloa was one of the hardest-hit cities in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

A woman and child in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Batticaloa was one of the hardest-hit cities in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Sustainable Success: LWR Completes Post-Tsunami Work in Sri Lanka

By Loren Hyatt

While many of us were probably still celebrating Christmas in 2004, Sakunthala’s life was turned upside down by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Her home and thousands of others along Sri Lanka’s eastern coast were destroyed in the blink of an eye. Thankful to have survived, Sakunthala and her family were left with no home and no access to clean drinking water or sanitation facilities.

In December 2004, millions of people across Asia were affected by the tsunami, which was caused by an earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean that sent waves washing over Sri Lanka and 13 other countries in Asia, killing an estimated 230,000 people and displacing thousands more.

The island nation of Sri Lanka was hit particularly hard. More than 35,000 people were killed, and homes and livelihoods were destroyed — all while the country was struggling to overcome the devastating impacts of a long-standing civil war.

In response to the needs of people in Sri Lanka, Lutheran World Relief opened an office in the country in 2005 to provide relief and long-term recovery support.

Thanks to the support of people like you, Sakunthala and her family have a safe place to live with running water and sanitation facilities.
Thanks to the support of people like you, Sakunthala and her family have a safe place to live with running water and sanitation facilities.

While families like Sakunthala’s received some support from the government to rebuild their homes, this money barely paid for a new foundation. In response, LWR worked with 220 families, including Sakunthala’s, to finish rebuilding their homes. The support gave Sakunthala’s family, and so many others, a safe place to live with running water and sanitation facilities.

LWR is thankful for what we’ve been able to accomplish in Sri Lanka with your generosity. In addition to helping families rebuild their homes, LWR supported entrepreneurship skills training in tailoring, pottery-making, seed cultivation and milk and fish processing, as well as business skills training in basic accounting and savings. We helped households headed by women increase their incomes, enabling mothers to send their children to school and pay for family health emergencies. We also enabled communities to establish disaster risk reduction plans to protect themselves from future natural disasters.

Now, nearly a decade after opening our office in Sri Lanka, we are pleased to report that we’ve achieved our goals. Thanks to the generous support of people like you, we invested $5.2 million in 34 relief and development projects that helped more than 360,000 people. Our office in Colombo officially closed on December 31, 2012.

Thank you for your compassion and generosity following the tsunami. We were able to achieve what we did because you shared your gifts with your brothers and sisters in need.

“Now that we have this house everything else will come. This was the most important thing we needed,” Sakunthala told us.

Through the mission and ministry of LWR, families like Sakunthala’s, once devastated by disaster, are now building stronger futures for themselves. Your support has helped to equip hundreds of thousands of others to move toward the futures of promise God envisions for us all.

Loren Hyatt is LWR’s Program Associate for Emergencies and Communications in Asia and the Middle East.

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