Meeting the Challenges of Communities
TSUNAMI RELIEF OPERATIONS-UELCI/LWS (I) UPDATE-6
The UELCI and its partners continue to be intensely engaged in its response to the Tsunami/earthquake disaster. It continues to take stock of the changing community and political realities, particularly in relation to the Gazetted Orders (GOs) and the policies for livelihood restoration and rehabilitation issues of the government. Several meetings have been taking place in which UELCI partners have participated. This interaction and dialoguing with communities gradually is setting the agenda of the future.
The UELCI in partnership with the Slum Women’s Advancement Project (SWAP) and the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church has now completed the survey in identifying excluded and ignored villages in Nagapattinam. With the help of the local government officials a few villages were identified for continuing relief distribution. In this second phase of operations in Nagapattinam, 400 more families were covered. This time the relief kit included utensils, stoves, cooking vessels and blankets.
The Cuddalore operations are progressing with greater speed in comparison with other operations. The Collectorate at Cuddalore has now allotted specific villages for interventions. Likewise the constructions of 39 shelters in Tamanampettai, Chitirapettai, Nijalingapettai and Aiyampettai have been completed. On the request of the communities and the Collector, electrical wiring and the provision of lighting in the temporary shelters has also been completed. Currently the possibilities for the construction of toilets and for shallow bore wells are being studied. Work on the completion of two childrens’ parks is underway. Meanwhile the volunteers are interacting with the communities in discussing the processes and strategies for the livelihood restoration package.
The UELCI has now completed the construction of 50 temporary shelters at Chandrapadi. This was done in the Dalit village, as it was not addressed in the earlier operations by the government and other NGOs. The 50 families will also be provided with relief kit and the discussions on the alternate livelihood are being carried on. The distribution of school uniforms and school kits has now been completed. The 5 play schools are now operational. In Vellipalayam, Chandrapadi, Kannantheru, Kesavapalayam and Tranqubar.
On the request of the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Mandal Revenue Officer of Nizampattnam, 500 more families have been identified for relief including addressing the issues of food security. Efforts are also underway in identifying the villages for construction of the multipurpose community centers, which will also serve as cyclone shelters.
A Community leaders meeting was held on the 31st of January at the UELCI office in which representatives from Palaya Nadukuppam, Perunthuravu Kuppam, Kannathur Angalamman Kuppam and Pudu Nadukuppam participated. Several issues were discussed and a strategy formulation was identified, according to which all the 4 villages after discussions at the Panchayat and community levels have now agreed to form themselves into teams of 10 families. These teams will receive a set of boat, nets and motor to start their livelihood. This has been submitted in writing and the community members identified this as a community capital, which will be utilized as a revolving resource. At the same meeting the date and the other details for the psycho social training of trainers programme was discussed, according to the which two groups consisting of 40 a group from this four villages will be trained before the end of this February.
Motor mechanic and a boat engineer have been deployed for damage assess hoods.
Chennai is one of the most effected areas in Tamilnadu by Tsunami. It was recognized that more than 18 Kuppams were damaged at Chennai coast. UELCI staff visited the effected areas and conducted a survey to identify the effected families and the needy. The Relief Material was distributed to the 50 families. This relief package contained Dry ration, dress material and Utensils.
State Level Consultation
Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation Coordination Committee (TRCC) for Tamilnadu and Pondicherry was organized a state level consultation on Civil society Partnership in Post Tsunami rehabilitation. Many NGO’s and government officials participated and expressed their opinions and interacted with each other. The UELCI also participated at this consultation. The TRRC was been formed in order to coordinate the different actors in the field and bring concerned people together in the field. This consultation was organized to involve and coordinate with civil society and Movements in Relief and Rehabilitation programmes. This consultation highlighted the responsibility of the communities, their choice and implementation regarding the rehabilitation programmes. NGO’s expressed their deep commitment to reconstruct Tamilnadu and restore the livelihood in the Tamilnadu. Representatives form the affected communities expressed their hopes, aspirations and rights, in the panel discussions. Mr. C.V Shankar IAS, who is on special duty and Mr. Santhanam, IAS Special Commissioner & Commissioner of Revenue Admn, represented the Tamilnadu Government. Mr. Santhanam appreciated the NGO’s on behalf of Tamilnadu Govt for which they have done in the field that relief and rehabilitation work. This consultation ended with a dynamic discussion between NGO’s and Govt officials. It helped NGO’s and Govt to understand the pulse of the civil society in regard to the rehabilitation work. Also it helped NGO’s to understand the position of the government regarding the rehabilitation programme.
AELC comes forward to shoulder the Tsunami relief efforts of ALC at Cuddalore
Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church is one of the member churches in UELCI. AELC has come forward to shoulder the Tsunami relief efforts doing by Arcot Lutheran church. AELC as a sister church in Lutheran family in India stood as a model and inspiration for others by contributing Rupees one lakh to the Arcot Lutheran church for the Tsunami relief efforts. Bishop Gideon Devanesan greatly appreciated the AELC delegation that had come to Cuddalore on 30th January 2005 to hand over the Rs.1, 00, 000 Cash to the Bishop on behalf of Andhra Evangelical Lutheran church. AELC delegation said that ‘Dec 26th Tsunami disaster left many children as orphans, left many families in miserable condition and took many lives. The AEL Church immediately responded to the needs of the effected communities’. Delegation also said that ‘Rev. Dr. Victor Moses, President AELC, initiated to collect the amount from the members to support Tsunami victims and also to support the efforts of our sister church in Tamilnadu’ which is doing great job in the Tsunami effected areas, and said ‘we were able to collect Rupees Two lakhs and decided to give Rupees one lakh to the ALC and the rest to the Church in Andaman. The Bishop said that this is first time ever that church has come forward with such an unprecedented response towards relief efforts. Bishop Gideon expressed his deep gratitude to the AELC for the concern they have showed and for supporting the Arcot Lutheran Church efforts.
Medical and Psychosocial Relief Services
The Bishop Peter Teachers Training Institute, Devanampattinam, Cuddalore has been converted into a mini Hospital with the team of 30 members (Inclusive of Medical Personals, Paramedics, Community health specialists). Nearly 4500 patients have been treated at the camp till date. On an average 170-180 patients are provided out patient services and early 85 patients have been admitted in the make-shift Hospital till 23rd January.
On 12th & 13th January a screening camp was conducted at Rojapettai, 262 adults and 109 school children were screened. Adults were suffering from URL, LRI, APD, Eye Problems, Musculoskeletal problems etc. Screening of children showed that nutritional deficiencies, Vitamin A deficiency, Iron deficiency and helminthiasis are fairly common. The team has adopted Rasapettai,Devanampattinam, Akkaraigori, Sonakuppam, Singarathoppu, for school screening and will provide, micronutrient screening, Health education, Nutritional supplementation, and attend Eye Problems over a period of 4 weeks. With a total population of 19886 in the above villages, 2000 patients (1000 adults and 1000 children) will be provided the above screening and the required medical aid.
The psychological trauma is becoming to be more serious than ever imagined. The fear of the sea is preventing many from venturing into sea. Children have not yet adapted to the new situation created by tsunami. The psychological Faculty of the Lutheran university has evolved a strategy but modified it with the realization of the enormity of the situation, to creating community counselors.
Government officials have been visiting the camp regularly to provide support to the team’s work and encourage the volunteers. Mr. Venkatapathy, Central Minister for Law had visited the site in January along with Dr. S. Narayanaswamy RMO, Government Hospital, Cuddalore , and appreciated the work being done. The joint Director of Medical Services for the state of Tamilnadu spent half a day at the camp on 25th January and also had visitors from Evangelical Lutheran church of America, Lutheran World Relief, Canadian Lutheran World Relief, and CBM International. Arcot Lutheran church supported the work by permitting to use of their property and the Pastors.
Andaman and Nicobar
The Moderators of the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church under took a visit to Andaman and Nicobar islands. They visited the affected communities including the congregations. Through their reports they have appealed to the UELCI to initiate operations at Andaman and Nicobar. This is being discussed and options explored. The immediate issues in Andaman & Nicobar continue to be relief, food security and livelihood and rehabilitation. As they expect the monsoons soon, the challenges in Andaman and Nicobar continue to be pressing.
‘Social Engineering to build a new community”
The UELCI and its implementing partners are organizing a one-day consultation to discuss social engineering instruments and methods in building a new community from the Tsunami disaster. This Consultation will bring together several operational NGOs, Collectives, Fisherfolk Forum, church leaders and community representatives to share information and challenges of social integration into the aim and methods of relief rehabilitation. This will also be used as an opportunity to develop new and fresh methodologies in relief operations. This consultation will take place on Monday the 21st Feb. 2005 at the Gurukul campus. This Consultation is jointly convened by UELCI and Gurukul.
Rev. Chandran Paul Martin