PUNE, INDIA (December 29, 2009) – Five years after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami killed an estimated 250,000 people in 14 countries, Covenant World Relief (CWR) dollars continue to make a difference.
The waves, which reached higher than 90 feet in some places, displaced hundreds of thousands of people along the coasts of Africa and Asia. In response, Covenanters donated more than $1 million for CWR to provide assistance.
Although the last of the money was spent in 2007, the emphasis CWR puts on development through partnerships with local organizations has helped many people to regain control of their lives and set the foundation for a sustainable future.
A significant portion of the funds were directed to the Andaman Islands, located between India and Burma. CWR began working with the Hindustani Covenant Church (HCC), with which it has since developed a close relationship and is partnering on many non-tsunami related projects.
HCC used tsunami relief funds from CWR and others to provide immediate relief supplies, medical care, trauma counseling, and temporary shelters. Hundreds of organizations assisted with relief work, but five years later, HCC is one of only a few who are still working in the Andaman Islands. The accompanying photo shows some of the permanent housing that has been created.
That emphasis on economic development has helped to restart the fishing industry and begin new micro-enterprise businesses. Additionally, 152 permanent shelters have been built and the HCC has planted new churches, according to David Husby, CWR director.
The continued work has been made possible, in part, because the HCC multiplied CWR funds by using them to obtain matching grants and other financial resources.
Still, much work remains. “Last year, I visited the Andamans and saw with my own eyes the terrible devastation nearly four years after the tsunami,” says Husby. “However, far worse than the physical devastation was the emotional pain and suffering of those who had lost many loved ones. I sat with people who wept as they shared their stories of those horrific few moments when parents, spouses, and children were swept away.”
There are some things that can never be forgotten, but Husby says the development work is opening opportunities to share the gospel in new ways.