The extensive relief efforts provided by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Sri Lanka brought immediate relief to the victims of the floods and landslides which ravaged the Southern landscape of our land. The devastation caused by cyclone Mora coupled with the monsoon rains and the ensuing landslides caused havoc in the region which had experienced a catastrophe of a lesser magnitude in 2003. The first relief effort which was in collaboration with Muslim Aid took place on the 6th and 7th of June and provided to 6,888 affected individuals with 1640 emergency kits that included dry rations and non- food items (NFIs). The two day distribution took place in Athureliya and Pitabeddara areas in the Matara district. ” we were having dinner when the ground trembled and we rushed out with our children before the landslide destroyed our home,” said Somawathie a mother of two from Ihala Pitabeddara.

The forlorn faces were wreathed with smiles upon receiving the much needed supplies. Despite having lost everything except their lives, these folk were resolute in their stance to resume their daily routine once again and ADRA’s efforts were imperative in giving them a new lease in life.

The destruction per se was overwhelming as families were desperately trying to grapple with cleaning the houses which were still standing, to sending the children back to school and so much more. However, the Grama Sevaka officers and benevolent individuals and organizations were further instrumental in providing them with a fresh start, hence the involvement of ADRA at this point.

After the initial visit, the ADRA Sri Lanka team worked tirelessly to obtain more funds in order to provide a greater number of essential items for the many who were affected. This resulted in ADRA securing funds from ADRA global network, the Disaster Relief Fund of Hong Kong through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency China-Hongkong.

The second relief measures named the Humanitarian Assistance for Flood Affected People in Sri Lanka (HAFA) project was undertaken on the 12th and 13th of July. The funds for this magnanimous effort were received by LDS Charities, ADRA International, ADRA Asia Regional Office, ADRA France, ADRA Italy, ADRA Canada, ADRA Australia, ADRA Denmark, ADRA Netherlands, ADRA United Kingdom and the Bethel Seventh-Day Adventists Church, Colombo.

The distribution of 1250 ‘Back-to-School’ kits, 1200 Non-Food Relief Items (NFRI) and 1200 Kitchen Kits to the folk who were in dire need of such items in the Pitabeddara division in the Matara district. This was done in coordination with the Gramasevaka offices in the division.

ADRA Sri Lanka operates with a purposeful mission in ‘Changing the world one life at a time.’ It has been in existence since 1983 and is instrumental in rebuilding the lives of many destitute villagers through a number of projects. Their technical expertise is extended to rural areas which lack the bare necessities of water and sanitation. Being one of the few NGO’s in Sri Lanka to own a high powered drilling rig which can reach a maximum depth of 200 meters and having a highly qualified drilling team. ADRA Sri Lanka has brought clean water to more than 350 communities across the country within the last 12 years. ADRA Sri Lanka has further contributed its efforts in offering a platform to resume life to the IDP’s who are being relocated in the North through the Local Economic and Social Strengthening (LESS) project . Moreover, ADRA Sri Lanka continues to support a number of folks across the island through their many projects involving livelihood and economic development assistance.

My personal involvement with ADRA was on a voluntary basis and what I witnessed on my visits with the team was the manner in which kindness prevailed and touched the lives of many who had lost everything except their precious lives.

The last visit was on the 11th and 12th of September which was mainly to gather the feedback from some of the families who had benefitted from the relief efforts. I along with Flory, Jon ( a volunteer from the Philippines) and Shem navigated through rural villages bordering the Nilwala river. Each person we visited have resumed their daily routine and thrived in a sense. We were treated with hospitality that went beyond their means. On many instances we had to refuse their offers of tea and tiffin as we had to reach our target of obtaining information and we were curtailed by time and the incessant rains that kept pounding on us. All of us braved the weather and resolutely walked for miles or climbed mountains through snake infested terrain in order to obtain the feedback from these amazing individuals who had not given up on life despite the disaster.

For further information visit them on www.adrasrilanka.org and on their Facebook page – adra sri lanka.

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About Rochelle Gunaratne

I believe that everyone has a story to tell and in turn, I love listening to those stories, attempting to paint a picture to my readers with my words. I may not be an artist or painter, but I believe words can create powerful images in ones mind and it is how we share our stories with others.
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