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Turning disaster into opportunity in South Asia

Tsunami destruction
Tsunami destruction

Natural disasters occur frequently throughout the world today. Indigenous ministries supported through Christian Aid are often the first to respond. Emergency funds received are sent out immediately and placed in the hands of capable ministry leaders who distribute it where most needed during initial stages of a crisis.

Children living at the Lama Sevana children's home.
Children living at the Lama Sevana children's home.

But this assistance does not end in a few weeks, months, or even years after the crisis is over. Lives, livelihoods, homes, and churches must be rebuilt. Indigenous ministries are working to re-establish the physical and spiritual works affected. This takes time. Because these ministries are already in place, Christian Aid continues to send regular support, as well as extra funds for special projects they encounter.

On December 26, 2004, a 9.3 magnitude earthquake triggered one of the deadliest tsunamis in recorded history. A large number of donors called Christian Aid asking how they could help. As gifts poured in, Christian Aid was able to send help immediately to indigenous ministries located in or near the stricken areas. Funds were then handled by ministry leaders who were able to discern how best to effectively help those in need.

New children's home under construction.
New children's home under construction.

One such ministry was Lama Sevana, literally translated as Haven for Children, located in Sri Lanka. Its vision is to protect and care for boys and girls who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. The tsunami opened the doors to expand the work, and today it is successfully helping many more needy children and young women in the name of Christ.

According to experts, 40% of Sri Lankan children lost either one or both parents during the tsunami. Not only were these children traumatized by the death of their parent(s), they were also left vulnerable to child traffickers.

Short-Term or Initial Emergency Assistance

Christian Aid first sent funds for food, medicine, tents, clothing and other necessities. Then, as a follow up, more funds were sent toward the emergency shelter for needy children. Christian Aid was able to provide an opportunity for donors to sponsor most of these children.

Long-Term Involvement

Young woman rescued from the streets.
Young woman rescued from the streets.

But help did not end during the first few months of the emergency phase. Christian Aid has been continuing its help to this ministry (and others like it) who were devastated by the tsunami in 2004. Funds were continually sent to Lama Sevana. During this time an orphanage was built. Food, clothing and shelter have been given to orphaned children in the name of the Lord. These children are now receiving vocational training in addition to their regular education.

A much-needed outreach to rescue children from prostitution was also realized. While child trafficking has always permeated Sri Lanka, it became even more prevalent after the tsunami. Children orphaned during the disaster were vulnerable to exploitation. By the time many of them were rescued by Lama Sevana, they already bore the marks of malnutrition, deprivation, and abuse.

Young girls learn to sew.
Young girls learn to sew.

Thirdly, many women who were left destitute after the disaster have been helped by the ministry. They have received occupational training in tailoring. To that end, several sewing machines were purchased for teaching, and then given to the women to earn a living on their own.

All of these women and children were given an opportunity to experience the love of Christ through Christian workers at Lama Sevana. Today many of the original group of kids are now grown and most have accepted the Lord. They have all been equipped to lead productive lives.


SC: WEBCAM