The tsunami killed 35,322 people, displaced 1,000,000 persons and affected over two thirds of the island's coastline and outlying 13 districts. Besides the tremendous loss of life and injuries, the tsunami caused extensive damage to property and disruptions of fisheries and other livelihood activities and business assets. Thanks to the quick response by the government, local communities, local NGOs, private sector and the international community, the country recorded no additional deaths because of tsunami related diseases or lack of delayed medical treatment. SOS Malta was amongst the international community cooperating in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance reached those in need
In December 2005, SOS Malta responded to the Tsunami disaster by sending a Medical team to Sri Lanka composed of 3 medical doctors and a nurse. Head of the mission was Mr David Grech SRN. Other doctors included Dr. Rachel Attard, Dr. David Paul Galea and Dr. Vanessa Saliba. SOS Malta coordinated this mission in close collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health and other Government Departments.
The medical team operated mainly in the Matara District in Sri Lanka. SOS Malta set up a fully operational clinic in Matara, offering immediate medical relief to over 3000 persons. The SOS Malta medical team also visited local displaced people in the camps to offer medical aid and other essential commodities. The NGO in turn made arrangements for medical supplies to be airlifted from Malta. SOS Malta also sort to provide recovery and sustainable livelihood assistance, and managed to help over 600 families in various villages by rebuilding their income-generating activities.
SOS Malta team - David Paul Galea, David Grech, Vanessa Saliba and Rachel Attard.
Projects 2006 Post Tsunami in Sri Lanka
In 2006 SOS Malta went beyond the emergency level and has been working on the ground assisting in the recovery and reconstruction process.
Our main focus has been to work within the outlined projects presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for funding namely:
- St Mary's Convent School Improvement in Matara
- Livelihood Recovery Programme
Livelihood Recovery Programme
The establishment of two fishing co-operatives amongst Matara Fort and Pollhena fishermen took place over a period of 4 months. The aims of the project were to provide a form of livelihood for the fishermen as part of the post tsunami rehabilitation process.
Before actually talking about providing boats and engines, we spent the first couple of months getting to know the fishermen and collecting information on each one, we also worked in close contact with the FAO, exchanging information. The point of this lengthy process was to ensure that we did not repeat the same mistakes that other NGO's had committed. We noted that other NGO's had given equipment and boats to individuals who already owned the latter and as a consequence one year after tsunami, fishermen who had lost everything had still not received any form of aid. Another aspect of the co-operative was to make the fishermen pay a minimal monthly amount for the boat, engine and nets, this money would then go towards funding other projects and providing more aid. It also gave us some assurance that the fishermen were indeed using the boats.
Engines for Boats
St. Mary.s Convent School Improvement
To continue our commitment to the development planning at school and classroom levels SOS Malta made further contacts with the Society of the Sacred Heart in India and arranged for teachers to undergo a Master Training Course in Mumbai for a month. Ms Gloria De Souza from the Institute Parisar Asha was invited to join us to assess the teachers and design a course to fit in to the Sri Lankan curriculum. We are happy that the first four head teachers of St Mary's Convent School have completed a month's training in Mumbai and are now ready to pass on what they have learnt to other teachers through the Resource Centre set up by SOS Malta in Matara.
The COURSE-CONTENT for the month dedicated to 'MASTER-TRAINING', focused on 5 crucial elements:
1. From VISION to MISSION
2. DEFINING our CHILD-CENTRED GOALS
3. CURRICULUM PLANNING for a COMPREHENSIVE/INTEGRATED SCHOOL EDUCATION SYSTEM
4. FOCUSED IMPLEMENTATION
5. PARTNERING/NETWORKING for SYNERGISED STRENGTH
The Director of Education in Matara has praised this initiative and is eager to extend the programme to other schools. SOS Malta will be looking at the possibility of offering the course again after receiving a full report from Mumbai.
The junior school reading room is now fully refurbished and equipped to include a Television, DVD and computer.
The success of SOS Malta's programme of assistance to St Mary's Convent is measured by the increase of commitment of all the sisters and teachers in meeting the vision and the set of goals decided upon together in March 2005. The school is now a better place for pupils to learn with all the improvements made as a distinct approach to educational change.
Over 500 Books were bought for the Library
Books for Library
SOS Malta's children's program aims to impact the lives of less privileged children, enabling them to maximise their potential and change their lives. SOS Malta works primarily in the field of education, addressing non formal education through the Resource Centre established at St Mary's Convent Matara and the partnerships created with HelpLanka and Healing Hands.
SOS Malta summer camps in Sri Lanka
The SOS Malta summer camps are opportunities for children to spend their summer learning through recreation. Summer camps have included workshops by clowns, drama, yoga and dance and lots of art and craft. Games and field trips are organized for the children. Volunteers are encouraged to take leadership roles in organizing and implementing the summer camp.
SOS Malta in partnership with Healing Hands Women's Organisation in Matara works to assist Sri Lankan women and girls in improving their social and economic status in society through the provision of targeted programmes. SOS Malta's overarching mission is to improve conditions of the poorest of the poor, and the economic and social empowerment of women and girls at the grassroots level. During 2007 SOS Malta:
- Initiated women focused projects
- Empowered women beneficiaries and staff capacities by improving leadership qualities
Coordinated networking with other Sri Lankan women groups and organisations.
David (SOS Malta) demonstrating how to paint some crafts to women involved in the Matara micro-enterprise project
SOS Malta together with Healing Hands focused on designing more women targeted projects in order to improve or rebuild the lives of those vulnerable groups of women in the country. The projects operates in the Matara district over a three-year period and aim to enhance woman's sustainable participation in social and economic activities both at the domestic and community levels.
Sri Lankan women carrying water for kilometres to their village.
Amongst other things, these projects support women in starting their own businesses and introduce them to Rain Water Harvesting. Specially trained members of staff meet villagers individually and informally through "befriending", they conduct awareness workshops and seminars on issues including women, children and alcohol, and host also special events.