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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

Caritas commerates thrid year of the tsunami disaster

Sunil C. Perera in Colombo

Colombo, 15 December, (Asiantribune.com): Caritas Sri Lanka commemorated three years of the Tsunami disaster with the handing over of 76 houses to beneficiaries in collaboration with Caritas Trincomalee–EHED and other implementing partners on Wednesday, December 12th 2007 at Konesapuri, Trincomalee. The theme for this year’s commemoration was, ‘Empowering communities through rebuilding lives.’

The Chief guest, Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony Perera, Chairman of the National Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development, Rt. Rev. Dr. Bishop Kingsley Swampillai, Bishop of Batticaloa and Trincomalee, Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Anradi, Bishop of Anuradhapura, Rt. Rev. Dr. Winston Fernando, Bishop of Badulla, Rev. Fr. Damian Fernando, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka and Rev. Fr. Francis X. Dias, Diocesan Director of Caritas Trincomalee - EHED together with other distinguished National and International Caritas Staff, were welcomed according to traditional Hindu customs.

The guests were led in procession to the ceremonial plaque to the sound of traditional music and dance. The Tsunami plaque was ceremonially declared opened by the chief guest and the crowd was led with an inter-religious prayer session which was conducted by the peace unit of Caritas Trincomalee – EHED.

The housing site in Konesapuri is a multi-donor site on a land provided by the Government. From a total of 500 houses, 103 houses were built by Caritas Trincomalee – EHED in this relocation site.

Twenty seven (27) houses have already been handed over to the affected families in phase one. “Caritas Trincomalee – EHED has built 418 houses and 86 are in progress and we will be handing over 76 houses to new beneficiaries. Caritas Trincomalee – EHED had initially chosen 4 DS division in Trincomalee sites to construct houses, namely, Mutthur, Kinniya, Kuchchaveli and Town and Gravets with a target to build 827 houses but due to the conflict situation we had to withdraw from Mutthur,” said Fr. Francis X. Dias in his welcome address.

“Caritas Sri Lanka has completed a total of 6338 permanent houses for the tsunami affected while 1562 are still in progress, according to the statistics upto 30th November 2007,” explained Rev. Fr. Damian Fernando, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka – SEDEC addressing the crowd. Caritas Sri Lanka was able to achieve this target through the continuous collaboration and support received from the worldwide Caritas Confederation representing 162 member countries. “We acknowledge your contribution especially Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Austria and Luxembourg for supporting this housing scheme,” he further stated. In his address he also thanked Bishop Chairman, the Bishops Conference and the Tsunami Task force members. Rt. Rev Dr Kingsley Swampillai too thanked the donors in his address, “Thank you to our generous donor partners and communities, God provided us these kind donors to rebuild the nation.”

The Government have also maintained close contacts with Caritas Sri Lanka and have supported initiatives to rebuild the lives of the tsunami affected. This fact was evident by the message sent by Honourable Minister Basil Rajapakse, for the event as he could not attend the ceremony. The message was read by Rev. Fr. Damian Fernando. “Caritas Sri Lanka has provided shelter to thousands of people affected by the disaster and have closely worked with the beneficiaries,” he read.

The additional Government Agent of Trincomalee, Mr. Nadaraja also praised the efforts by the, “Directors and the officers of Caritas Trincomalee – EHED who supported the Government in the recovery process to ensure a better life for the people. “They are committed to build the nation,” he said.

Mr. Theivendirajah, Manager Tsunami Programme relating his tsunami experience of said, “As Pope Benedict XVI asks us to do, Deus Caritas Est(God is Love) and as ‘Caritas’ means love, it is the responsibility of the church and Caritas Sri Lanka to show solidarity and love towards the people affected.”

Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony Perera also reiterated the fact the, “church is committed to rebuild the lives of the people and that it should embrace the needs of the people. The Peace Task Force established by the Catholic Bishops Conference is also committed towards advocacy and building mutual understanding among all people. It is our duty to build a strong inter-religious alliance.”

Representatives from Caritas Switzerland and Belgium also expressed their gratitude and congratulated Caritas Sri Lanka for handling such a catastrophe and for succeeding in providing relief to those affected.

The chief guest Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony together with other distinguished guests symbolically opened these new houses. The Tsunami song, cultural dances and sharing of experiences by the beneficiaries enlivened the day’s celebration.

- Asian Tribune -

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