South Asia: Tsunami one year on - Survivors
Simeulue, Indonesia - Sarfiandi sits in the doorway of the temporary shelter that protects his family. The 40-year-old lives with his wife and daughters in this small house that he recently built on a new plot of land, while he works on the construction of a permanent house designed by CARE.
Sarfiandi's family is one of seventy who have moved to a new site further inland from their previous coastal village of Latiung on Simeulue Island, after the tsunami and then a second major earthquake in March destroyed their homes.
'The quake was so violent that we could not stand,' Sarfiandi remembers. 'It took some time to get everyone out and then the next time I went down to the village I found out that my house had completely collapsed. I felt relieved that all my family members were still alive.'
CARE responded immediately to the urgent needs of the population after each disaster, distributing food and other essential items.
'I learned from my neighbours that there was going to be a meeting with CARE,' says Sarfiandi. 'I went to this meeting and we discussed a new site that had been found inland, on which houses would be constructed for the people of Latiung.'
Following consultations with the village members and the purchase of the land, families were very quick to move into the cleared zones and set up temporary shelters so they could make a start on their new houses and gardens.
'We received seeds and tools from CARE as soon as we arrived here and I prepared the land behind my house. For the last two weeks I have been harvesting so many eggplants,' says Sarfiandi, happily walking around his small home garden.
Kumara lost his home and family business in the tsunami. CARE is in the process of constructing a new home for his family in a community in southern Sri Lanka that will include parks, public buildings and shops. Kumara, 46, recalls what it was like to experience the deadly tsunami on December 26 and his impressions of the recovery progress.
'That day we opened the shop, that day was a holiday. We were watching the TV. One of my younger sons said, "Mother, there's a big noise from the sea." We'd never heard a sound like that. It was very huge, you can not imagine that time. It was a very bad feeling, very sad. We saw that people were running... That time, we had no hope. Then suddenly the CARE people came and gave us hope by helping to build a house. I told my wife, "Look, we're going to get the house". And she said, "Nice, very nice", and we built our hopes further, and we thought, "We have a life". I'm very happy about this house. Very good construction.'
Asked if he thought he would have a house by now, Kumara responds, 'No, it may take a long time to build this house, but we can wait. I like this plan - the structure is very strong. We are not in a hurry to get a bad house, cheap house. We need a good house, a quality house. This house is going to be a home, a good home. Me and my three kids and my wife, we love this house.'
Water and sanitation unite a community
Indra Nagar is a small fishing village on the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It was devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami. The wells and hand pumps, which provided the village with clean water, were filled with salt-water.
The community has been at risk of developing cholera and diarrhoea due to the poor sanitation facilities. As well as providing immediate assistance, CARE, in collaboration with a local partner, has been working with the Indra Nagar community to improve access to clean water and sanitation.
Ms. Submathi was identified as a volunteer in the village who could educate people on health and hygiene. With CARE's support, Ms. Submathi was trained in better hygiene practices, so she could educate the local community on personal hygiene and preventing water-borne diseases. Even though the local community was hesitant at the beginning, Ms Submathi has educated people on the importance of having toilet facilities in the home, which wasn't previously the practice.
'I am proud of being an agent of change in my village.' Ms. Submathi now enthuses. 'I never imagined that I would have the ability to convince my villagers to accept toilets as an essential requirement of their home. Initially I had to chase them to educate them, now they approach me and ask for help.'
A Village Resource Centre has been constructed to create awareness about hygiene practices. CARE has installed four new hand-pumps in the village, giving people access to clean water. Dustbins have also been distributed. The people of Indra Nagar are now working toward recovery from the devastating tsunami by bringing about positive change in their community.
'We want a healthy environment for our children,' says Ms. Submathi.
People thank CARE for preserving their fishing livelihoods
CARE has provided financial support to 60 people in Baan Tayang, Thailand to replace or make repairs to their fishing gear and homes.
Pagamas, 43, used the support she received from CARE to fix her boat and buy a new fishing net. Without pausing from her work picking through a net to remove the debris and separate the fish, Pagamas acknowledges that if she and her husband, who also works in the fishing industry, had not received help from CARE they would not have fished anymore.
'We would have to do something else, maybe work in the fields. I don't know what else we could do,' she says. 'Before we used to earn as much as $24 a day. Now it is less than $5 and the price of petrol for the boat has increased.'
The timing of the tsunami has been a challenge, slowing the pace of recovery here. The rainy season limits access to prime fishing spots between October and May.
Abdula, a young 53 year old, has been the secretary of his village's fishing association for the past nine years. 'Even when we received support from CARE, we couldn't start repairing and replacing equipment right away because it was the monsoon season. And also people were too sad after the tragedy and feared another tsunami,' he notes.
Still, Abdula and Pagamas remain resilient as the recovery progresses and they move forward with their lives.
'I'll be here for the rest of my life, and now we'll be able to earn an income again,' a grateful Abdula asserts.
Adds Pagamas, 'With the help from CARE, my husband and I can earn enough to feed ourselves and are able to continue fishing.'