• Tsunami Rehabilitation

One of the greatest natural calamities of modern times, the Tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean shores on the 26th December 2004, left over 300,000 people dead, thousands injured and millions of survivors left homeless, impoverished and psychologically scarred for ever. Tamil Nadu was the worst affected state in India with reconstruction needs estimated at $868 million.

The first ten days were devoted entirely to crisis-management measures like saving human lives, providing food and medicine and arranging temporary shelter with necessary provisions, clothes and utensils. The inflow of sufficient relief materials from governmental and non-governmental sources helped the affected people tide over their initial sufferings.

After the initial relief work, plans for rehabilitation of the 150,000 Tsunami affected fisherman families in the costal districts of Tamil Nadu were taken up. Though a repetition of the disaster cannot be prevented, the degree of destruction can be lessened through proper precautionary measures and educative campaigns. The rehabilitation plans were to include these aspects to create a disaster-resilient habitation that would prepare and protect the people as far as possible.

The children, as usual in such exigencies, were the most affected and least cared for. Chances of cruel abuse of affected children including migratory trends, sexual trafficking, forced labour, etc., were plenty. In the Nagapattinam district alone, there were 198 orphans and 978 semi-orphans, besides hundreds of poverty-stricken and psychologically affected children. They needed support for economic security, educational continuity and other rehabilitation assistance. The community did not have adequate capacity to look after these needs and NGOs had to step in with necessary assistance.

Project Location
Velankanni, a famous pilgrimage town and fishing centre in Nagapattinam, the most affected district of Tamil Nadu, is the place where Peace Trust implements its main rehabilitation project for the affected children. It is the Strahlemann Peace Support Centre for Children Affected by Tsunami. Velankanni was selected as it was the most needful place for support in rehabilitating the school drop-out children.

Target Beneficiaries
The Tsunami affected children of Seruthur and Velankanni villages of Nagapattinam district, giving priority to orphaned, semi-orphaned and psychologically affected children, were identified as the beneficiaries of the programme. 105 children of 11 to 17 years, with 54 girls and 51 boys, were selected as target beneficiaries of the rehabilitation programme.

Rationale of the Programme
1.  Velankanni and Seruthur villages were two of the worst hit villages in Nagapattinam district as 838 adults and 448 children were reported missing from these two villages alone.
2. Special attention was required to help the beneficiary children to restart their formal schooling and improve their academic performance.
3. The schooling programme of the children is effective in controlling juvenile delinquency and criminal tendency among the children.
4. The programme was effective in preventing child abuses and trafficking.
5. The death of close relatives and loss of property leave the children psychologically hurt and centre was to take collective correctional steps.
6. The secure environment and helpful atmosphere of the support centre help children cope with the situation.

Overall Objective
The overall objective of the Support Centre is to ensure that the Tsunami affected children of Nagapattinam district will be protected against all child rights abuse and provided the basic needs for a safer and better life environment.
Specific Objectives

The specific objectives of the Strahlemann Peace Support Centre for Children Affected by Tsunami at Velankanni, Nagapattinam district, are:
1. To improve the educational performance of the children through additional coaching by a team of trained and qualified people.
2. To raise the academic excellence of the children through well-conceived motivational camps aimed at developing their managerial capacity, leadership qualities, knowledge base and attitudes correction.
3. To supply all the educational needs of the children, besides coaching, for better academic performance.
4. To improve the health of the children through supplementary nutrition-rich feeding during their stay at the centre.
5. To provide medical support to the children through periodical health checkups and supply of necessary medicines.
6. To enhance the psychological performance of the children through counselling and recreational opportunities.
7. To make highly gainful careers in competent firms accessible to the children when they grow up for a brighter future.

1. Special Coaching: A team of trained and qualified people provide special coaching to the children.
2. Educational Assistance: Admission fees, text books and note books, writing materials, fee for vocational training, examination fee, work book fee, travelling allowance from home to school, etc., are given as educational assistance.
3. Supplementary Feeding: water and sanitation facilities and supplementary feeding during tuition hours are provided at the centre.
4. Health Check-up: Periodical health examination and keeping track of the health status of the children are strictly followed.
5. Motivation Camps: Motivation camps are conducted to develop the managerial capacities, leadership qualities, knowledge aptitude and involvement in extra-curricular activities of the children.
6. Recreational Facilities: Children get adequate space for sports and games, play materials, TV, radio, etc.
7. Bridge Course: This is to build-up knowledge and attitude of the children and to help them concentrate on their education.
8.Career Guidance Programmes: Career guidance programmes on vocational opportunities and self employment initiatives are provided to help the students to enter spheres of gainful employment.
9. Semi Boarding Facility: This facility helps single parent children to feel free and comfortable in the boarding room.

As a child rights organisation involved in protecting the rights of Tsunami affected children, Peace Trust arranged special coaching classes to motivate the children during the rescue phase itself. When planning the second phase, Peace Trust focused on the real issues the children were facing and proposed the establishment of a child support centre as part of the solution. The Support Centre is not intended just to ‘replace’ what was lost but envisions a better future for the children making them more active, safe, supportive, cheerful and loving.