On December 26th, 2004, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami caused such destruction to countries bordering the Indian Ocean. Direct Relief, thanks to a generous outpouring of support from donors, has provided almost $60 million in medical humanitarian aid to help people affected by the tsunami live healthier, better lives.
Direct Relief’s Response
Initiatives focused on seven specific responses: disease prevention; health facility construction and rehabilitation; medical and technical equipment assistance; health and medical services; psycho-social services; shelter; and water and sanitation.
Thanks to the funding from Direct Relief we have been able to continue giving much needed direct relief to the people of Sama Tiga, Meulaboh, Aceh with our medical service. It is difficult, nearly impossible to relate to the donors just how harsh conditions are in Aceh for the Tsunami survivors we serve in Samatiga… The Tsunami of poverty is still breaking upon the people of Aceh.
—Ibu Robin Lim Head Midwife, Yayasan Bumi Sehat, Indonesia
For example, Direct Relief’s support helped to rebuild fishing villages in Thailand as well as build latrines in a refugee camp in Sri Lanka. In the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands off the coast of India, 34 health clinics were constructed and outfitted with supplies and equipment, replacing the facilities destroyed in the tsunami. And in Chennai, India, Direct Relief funded training for more than 700 nursing assistants through a program sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. The program pays tuition and living expenses during a two-year course that prepares young women for careers in the medical field. These young women often come from very humble backgrounds and are able to make a living wage while contributing to health care service in India upon graduation.
Direct Relief’s tsunami response helped improve the region’s resilience in subsequent emergencies. For example, when floods struck India, a telemedicine van that Direct Relief provided to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences was able to bring sophisticated medical care to populations displaced by the floods. The state-of-the-art vehicle enabled doctors to reach rural, remote populations to provide screenings, and consultations via satellite connection. Based on the success of the first telemedicine van project, similar vans were deployed in other parts of India.
Direct Relief has continued to support medical facilities in the region such as Yayasan Bumi Sehat (YBS) as well as in Aceh, Indonesia, one of the hardest-hit regions. A nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with a staff of mostly nurses and midwives, YBS established a clinic and mobile services in Aceh following the tsunami. YBS has spent decades operating a safe motherhood and infant survival clinic in Bali, and after the emergency the group worked to bring in trained medical professionals, recognizing that a lack of primary and prenatal care was a serious concern for a population of more than 10,000. Its vision, dedication, provision of care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, and respect for the community in which it works has made YBS a valued Direct Relief partner.