Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Surviving the Tsunami – Stories of Hope

Yesterday, IFRC and Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) hosted an event in London to launch a web-based multimedia documentary that is linked to the fifth commemoration of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

After checking out the website and the stories, I was thrilled to see the quality and content. There are four short films based on personal stories, called “Surviving the Tsunami – Stories of Hope”, that have been co-produced in a partnership involving both organizations. The project has its own website


and features an interactive map, a comments function and a ‘Learn More’ section with links to National Societies’ tsunami programmes and information to other resources.
Sub-titled versions of the films should now be available in:
Arabic: http://tsunami.trust.org/arabic/
Bahasa (Indonesian): http://tsunami.trust.org/bahasa/
French: http://tsunami.trust.org/french/
Hindi: http://tsunami.trust.org/hindi/
Mandarin: http://tsunami.trust.org/mandarin/
Sinhala: http://tsunami.trust.org/sinhala/
Spanish: http://tsunami.trust.org/spanish/
Thai: http://tsunami.trust.org/thai/
Tamil: http://tsunami.trust.org/tamil/ `
Japanese: http://tsunami.trust.org/jp/

If you want to dig a little deeper, the British Red Cross has taken an innovative look back at the tragedy, the long road to recovery and the foundations which have been laid for a brighter, safer future.
Through a new interactive challenge, ‘Decisions for Recovery’, the British Red Cross is asking people in the UK and around the world to put themselves in the shoes of those who led recovery from the disaster.


Drawing from the real-life dilemmas Red Cross staff faced, ‘Decisions for Recovery’, puts you in the hot seat.

When so many are suffering, who do you help first? What kind of help do you offer and how do you decide between quick fixes which meet immediate needs and frustratingly slow but sustainable long-term projects?

As a disaster recovery manager for the British Red Cross, it’s up to you to direct and co-ordinate the Tsunami response, help rebuild lives and recover a future for people who have lost everything.

“The challenges were enormous, the decisions – as people visiting the website will see - were incredibly difficult, but today I feel very proud of what the Red Cross achieved to help rebuild people’s lives and, more than that, build them back stronger,” said Alastair Burnett, British Red Cross disaster recovery manager.

“We were faced with the most difficult decisions of our lives, decisions that affected hundreds of thousands of people whose lives were destroyed by the tsunami.

“The support we received from the public was phenomenal and enabled us to mount our largest recovery effort since the Second World War. Now we want to tell the story of how the money people gave was spent and the difference it has made to people’s lives.”

This is an emotional time for me. Having spent almost five years of my life in the Tsunami operation in Indonesia, Maldives, India and Sri Lanka, there is much to reflect on, and much to celebrate. The Red Cross has achieved the following:

The lives of almost 5,000,000 people are now significantly improved through the collective efforts of the Red Cross Red Crescent

21,112 transitional shelters were built in Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka
Over 51,000 houses have been built with funding from the Red Cross Red Crescent.

289 hospitals and clinics have been built or rehabilitated. More than 70 are under construction and over 350 hospitals and health facilities will be provided

161 schools have been built with a further 11 under construction or in the planning stages.

Over 1,110,000 people have been reached by community-based health services

Over 62,000 households have received livelihoods support grants

Over 38,000 people have been trained in vulnerability and capacity assessments or community based disaster management

It is clear to me that the Red Cross tsunami recovery operation has met peoples’ emergency needs, helped to rebuild communities and supported their future development. This approach gives people the best possible chance for a long term, sustainable recovery.


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