Members of the Sri Lanka YWCA help survivors of the Tsunami.
Sri Lanka, an island country the size of Ireland, is located about 18 miles (28 kilometers) from the southeastern coast of India. It has a population of about 20 million people. Many Sri Lankan families lost loved ones and all their belongings when a Tsunami struckin 2004. Two and a half years later, the nightmare is still not over for many of its victims, and the need for critical long term YWCA relief work continues.
In Batticaloa, the YWCA had a drop-in child care center, the “House of Hope,” which was converted to permanent quarters for 24 children who now live there, while others visit regularly for meals and support. In the Thiraimadu refugee camp, the YWCA provides nutritional supplements for about 100 pregnant and nursing mothers as well as for preschool age children. In addition, 24 women there are being trained to sew, so they’ll be able to earn a livelihood. The YWCA also runs an Elders Program and Medical Clinic, providing much needed support to women who lost family members.
Mrs. Thangapillai Vinasithampi lives at refugee camp No. 76, Navalady, Thiraimadu, where she has benefited from the “Elders Program” and Medical Clinic. She is the mother of 10 children and recalls the tragic events of December 26, 2004: “We were living happily. My husband had gone fishing that day and my son came rushing to the house, shouting that the sea was coming. In no time, we were engulfed. I briefly hung onto a window pole, but the sea carried us all out. Then I realized that the ocean had dropped me on the sand bar, but rescue workers couldn’t find me because I was covered by all my furniture, kitchen utensils and other belongings. Later I finally dug my way out and saw a boat coming toward me. I waved and was thrilled to see my children who had been searching for me. I was badly bruised, but after three days in the hospital, one of my grandchildren took me to a temple. There I learned that my husband, my youngest daughter and 24 of my grandchildren had perished. Now I am living, but with great sadness and loss.
“The YWCA provided me with medicine until I was cured and gave me and my pregnant granddaughter nutritious food and supplements. They also provided nutritious food for babies who are also refugees at Thiraimadu camp. I sincerely thank the YWCA for providing such help to the needy people.”
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