Tsunami- relief projects in Sri Lanka

Scotland’s Buddhist Vihara has successfully completed four inter-connected Tsunami- relief projects in Sri Lanka, these projects were created based on achievable and sustainable long-term goals, with the aims serving as essential guiding principals for the progression and direction of the efforts. On the basis of an Executive sponsored ‘Fact Finding Mission’ Venerable Rewatha, together with key committee members travelled to the South of Sri Lanka to ascertain what could feasibly be done by a small N.G.O to bring and distribute effective relief to people in one of the worst affected areas of Tsunami hit Sri Lanka.

As a result of this mission a report was created and presented to the Executive and the key aims of Scotland’s Buddhist Vihara’s Tsunami Relief effort were established.

SBV established an NGO in Sri Lanka called SBV Foundation to enable our Sri Lankan partners to work directly in affected communities.

This foundation is made up of 5 voluntary directors, who are in charge of 10 part time volunteers from the committee. The foundation employed 3 managers in addition to 6 other employees from 2007-2011 for the purposes of discharging the duties and responsibilities of the Scotland Buddhist Vihara.

The schema of the projects is as follows:

Projects schema

Successful Projects:

Widowed Women / Men Livelihood Development:

This project has proven to be highly effective, providing humanitarian, financial, emotional and logistical support for 450 widowed mothers within the geographic areas most badly afflicted and impacted upon by the Tsunami disaster.
As mentioned earlier the women were seen to bear the brunt of the Tsunami, they found themselves with the double burden of the loss of their partner which in turn resulted in the loss, either partial or total, of household income. As a result of this there was a tremendous pressure put on the surviving families as the women now had to juggle the burden of the provision of child care and the securing of an income.

The project scope was for three years. In the first year women have been interviewed in Matara and Galle Districts to ascertain what help they felt they needed most, in an attempt to better co-ordinate and strategise limited resources. From this two main themes developed. The first was a desire to create small businesses common in Southern Sri Lanka.

These range from fruit and vegetable stalls, fish stalls or ‘short eats’ or craft stalls making toys or garments for sale. The other type of assistance was for women to be trained, providing them with the requisite resources necessary to gain entry into upper educational facilities and higher levels of sustainable employment. Job opportunities within the telecommunications sector, whether as operatives or date input operatives requires college certification from potential candidates.

The costs of these forms of assistance for enrolment and the licenses and material needs for self-employment could be met by the project.

The second year of the project aimed at assisting widowed men with surviving families in very much the same way as for widowed women, with no discernable difference in the provision or access of support.

The Scottish Government funded this project for three years.


The Orphanage

One of the terrible outcomes of the Tsunami was the number of children orphaned. One of the primary objectives of this project was to provide emotional, financial and mental support to children who had been orphaned whether by virtue of the untimely demise of either one or both parents. A total of 20 children were formally adopted by the Orphanage, 18 of which were orphaned children and the remaining referred as a result of the intervention of the probation officers concerned for the continued welfare of the children.

The vast majority of these children exhibited clear signs of significant and dehabilitating psychological trauma, manifested in prima facie symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In an attempt to counter this issue, we ensured that the Orphanage was situated within the countryside inland, as many of the children were deeply troubled and alarmed by the sight of the sea which served as a constant and painful reminder of the trauma they have endured.

The Orphanage was situated within a 1 acre perimeter, providing free access for an organic vegetable garden. Due to a myriad of different factors, the children had their academic careers interrupted to their significant detriment and so in an attempt to counter this problem private tutors were employed to assist the children to reach the standard of progress required and expected of their peers.

Working in conjunction with the local health authorities, and with financial assistance from the Central Gurduwar – the Sikh community in Glasgow – SBV began the building of an orphanage to house twenty identified ‘at risk children’.
Many of these children were vulnerable to being drawn into crime or terrorist organisation or into immoral behaviour, and so it is very heartening to see such resilience and progress achieved. Furthermore, many of the children have since been reunited with their extended families.

As a matter of urgency SBV now has the 2 storey orphanage well underway. The full emotional and psychological needs of these boys falls within the scope of the project. The Scottish Government has funded 3 years of this project. We have been able to fund the project for 6 years. From 2013 onwards, the orphanage will be utilised as a preschool.


Scholarship programme

This project actually grew out of requests among the Glaswegian supporters of the Vihara who wanted a way to help the families who were headed by widowed women or men. SBV established a method of sponsorship through small sums given by Direct Debits which could be administered by SBV Foundation. Simple sums of money can go a long way to helping children through the most critical of times.

A women widowed by the Tsunami will simply not have the money to buy her children the most basic of items like a schoolbag a T shirt or shoes. The supporters of SBV in Glasgow can give the children these small but essential items through their sponsorship of the children.

Working in conjunction with the NewsLanka, a Sri Lankan weekly newspaper, SBV continues to raise awareness of individual cases through advertising and writing campaigns.

3 of the children are attending university, with monthly contributions provided for their tuition. One of the children is currently enrolled within the teacher training, two are entering their advanced education and the others are enrolled for GCSE curriculum.

We are very grateful to the friends of the Vihara who are still continuing to provide support for these children’s education.

  • The late Mr Bill Murray: A particular warm thanks is due to Mr Bill Murray as the idea of the scholarship programme stemmed from him.
  • Mrs Jean Maray
  • Mr Robin Murray
  • Mr Donald Murray
  • Mr and Mrs Martin Murray
  • Mr David Cunningham
  • Mr J Keenan
  • Mr Paul Keenan
  • Mr and Mrs Goonethilake