Down the Memory Lane
The Task force on Disaster Management (TFDM)
In the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami disaster of 26th of December, 2006, an emergency general meeting of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka (CGPSL) was convened, at which a Taskforce for Disaster Management (TFDM) was established.
This Task force comprised members of the College and several dedicated persons from different professions and vocations. The level of their involvement could be appraised from their offices in the task force. One was the Co-Chair, and the other was the Joint Secretary of the TFDM.
Background Work Done
A Tsunami Disaster Fund (TDF) was setup and a special bank account was opened. Specific aims and objectives were assigned to the TFDM.
A letter titled “Tsunami tragedy” setting out the aims and objectives of the TFDM was sent out to members of the College and also to our friends in Sri Lanka and abroad appealing for assistance. An office run by a single person was established to attend to the activities of the TFDM.
A website (www.tsunami-cgpsl.lk) was launched to provide information on and linkage with TFDM activities for those interested. It is also linked to the College website and that of the Global Family Doctor and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
The Tsunami Disaster Fund stood at Rs.14, 387,517.05 on 30th April 2006. A financial procedure was developed by the TFDM and approved by the Council of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka for the disbursement of monies from the fund.
Areas the TFDM Worked on
TFDM was involved in rehabilitation of tsunami survivors with emphasis being given in the following areas;
We donated a house to a family in Kalutara. We assisted them in continuing their self-employment.
In March 2005, at Welhengoda, a village in Galle District, six houses were constructed and handed over to recipients. They were also given living needs such as furniture and cooking utensils.
In April 2006 again in Welhengoda, four houses were built and along with the living needs, were handed over to the recipients.
Four more houses at Welhengoda with funds that have been received from donors specifically for housing and handed over in April 2007.
TDFM donated a house to a family in Kalutara. We assisted them in continuing their self-employment.
One house was constructed in Batticoloa and handed over to a widow.
1. It was noted that several schools in the East had no furniture such as desk and chairs for the students.
In order to provide some relief the TFDM contracted the State Timber Corporation to manufacture furniture to the value of Rs. One Million for the Al Aqsa Vidyalaya, Pothuwil, Ampara. This furniture was ceremonially handed over to the school by the members of TFDM who were present at Ampara on the 27th of May 2006.
2. Twenty Tsunami affected children from the Trincomalee District were provided with their educational needs for two years such as school books, uniforms, tuition fees and mid morning meals. This was done by our REFTAC (Remedial Education for Tsunami Affected Children) project which was created by the TFDM in order to perform this task.
3. Three Tsunami affected children in Batticoloa, handpicked after a careful screening process were assisted initially for a period of one year with their educational needs with the support of a local donor from that area
4. Four children of one of the recipients of a Phase 2 house in Welhengoda were evaluated by the TFDM to identify their educational needs. These children were also assisted for a period of one year with these educational needs.
An initiative directed at facilitating rational decision-making at a primary care level and preventing of substance abuse, together with training for providers in relevant aspects of medical care for the family was executed as a pilot project at Welhengoda.
Health camps were held in Modera and Welhengoda in the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami
The TFDM also conducted discussion and workshops on disaster preparedness where various government and private organizations involved in Tsunami rehabilitation came together under one roof to discuss and exchange their views on Disaster Preparedness and how to move forward with this concept.
Other activities of the TFDM included
- Health and life support activities in relief camps for survivors in the immediate aftermath.
- Review of government land for resettlement of survivors in the south of Sri-Lanka.
- Symposium to educate members’ on psychosocial intervention for caring for survivors.
- Setting up a stock of medicines for use in health related activities amongst Tsunami survivors.
- Participating in two symposia on Disaster management one conducted at the WONCA- MESAR Conference held in Oct.2005 and the other during the Sri Lanka Medical Association Annual Sessions held in March 2006 to share our experience.
Our collaborators in these activities were
- Sama International (Navin Gooneratne)
- RADA (Reconstruction and Development Agency)
- tERM (tsunami Education Rehabilitation Monitor)
- State Timber Corporation
- Al Quraish (Ampara)
The TFDM is grateful to all of them for their selfless assistance.