World Vision International
Press Release • Sunday, December 21st 2014

From devastation and despair to homes and hope – how a region was rebuilt

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Ten years ago the world faced one of the worst natural disasters in history, a tsunami devastating Indian Ocean coastlines which killed almost 230,000 people. But a wave of generosity from people around the world has helped rebuild the region, World Vision said today.

“Women’s livelihood groups going from strength to strength, houses in good condition, schools flourishing, evacuation routes and plans in place. Memories are still strong for people – both survivors and communities and our staff involved in that recovery work. But there is much hope and progress to be found. We as an organisation learnt and grew from this most horrendous disaster and we will surely hold all those impacted by the tsunami in our prayers this Boxing Day,” said Trihadi Saptoadi, head of World Vision programmes across South Asia and the Pacific.

On the morning of 26 December 2004, a massive undersea earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale triggered a series of tsunamis that charged across the Indian Ocean. The surging waves hit the coastline of 12 countries, claiming the lives of 227,000 people and causing widespread damage and destruction.

“World Vision mounted its largest-ever single relief response across five countries simultaneously – Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and Myanmar – which was only possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters.”

World Vision raised more than US$350 million after the tsunami and built roads and bridges, restored a fishing harbour, boat-building centres, farms, factories and market places.

The organisation built 12,000 homes, 200 child-friendly spaces, 84 schools, 60 playgrounds and 27 health clinics, provided training and employment opportunities to 40,000 people, child-rights awareness sessions for more than 27,000 people. Programmes saw the planting of 56,000 mangroves to reclaim coastal areas and to help build a natural buffer zone, provided educational support for more than 2,000 teachers and 137,00 children, and implemented disaster risk reduction programmes.

“The tsunami programme was a huge undertaking for us and other humanitarian agencies – it stretched us but also helped us to improve the way we deliver aid in emergencies,” says Saptoadi.

“It is humbling to see how much of the tsunami work still stands today, despite World Vision phasing out of those communities many years ago once programmes were completed.

Most tsunami-related rehabilitation work was completed by 2007. Today, World Vision’s expansive child sponsorship, health, education, water, food, agriculture and income-generating activities are found across each of the tsunami-affected countries.