by Dan Ruth
On Sunday, December 26, 2004, an earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean. This earthquake caused a disastrous and infamous tsunami, with waves nearly 100 feet high. The disaster killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries.
The island nation of Sri Lanka was one of the hardest hit by the tsunami; over 35,000 people died and hundreds of thousands more were displaced from their homes. In the midst of this disaster was a long-standing civil war between the government and Tamil rebel forces. The war created a chronic human rights crisis that was exacerbated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami. In the fall of 2005, LWR opened an office in Sri Lanka to help the people and communities affected by the tsunami.
After nearly a decade of dedicated work by LWR staff and partners in Sri Lanka, we made the decision to close our office in Colombo as of
January 1, and will wind down our projects by the end of 2013. Since our work began in Sri Lanka, LWR provided more than $5.2 million in support of 34 projects. These projects have assisted more than 360,000 people who were affected by the tsunami and the civil war.
Sri Lanka has seen a steady rise in economic growth over the past decade. Our work to provide immediate and long-term disaster relief — supported by your prayers and contributions — has made a difference.
We have rehabilitated jobs and livelihoods for thousands of families. We focused on agriculture, providing housing and rebuilding homes that were lost, and strengthening community based organizations. Read one story of our work here.
Of course, there is still much work to be done. LWR continues to support post-tsunami development efforts in Indonesia. We are helping farmers in Nias increase their household income by teaching them agricultural management skills, for example. And we continue to respond to natural disasters in Asia, like the recent typhoon that struck the Philippines. In any given year, 90% of people affected by natural disasters live in Asia [source], and LWR is grateful for the support provided by Lutherans in the United States to address these needs.
We are proud of the work we have accomplished in Sri Lanka. Because of your contributions and the committed, caring and dedicated work of our field staff and partners, we have achieved our key goals. Thank you for your support.
To learn more about LWR’s work to address the needs of communities facing poverty & marginalization in Asia, please visit http://lwr.org/asia.