When the tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004, Kalmunai was the hardest hit on the east coast. Thousands were killed and thousands more lost their homes and livelihoods. Survivors were provided shelter in crowded camps where many remain to this day. In 2006, thousands more arrived in the camps seeking refuge from the civil war. Rose Charities Canada has worked with the community since 2005 helping them put their lives back together again.
CEO Anthony Richard was with the first Rose Charities Canada Team to reach Kalmunai just 5 days after the 2004 tsunami. A Canadian citizen, he was born in Kalmunai and knew the area well. Anthony quickly took charge of organizing the relief work and stayed on in Kalmunai after the Canadian teams returned home. In 2005, he registered Rose Charities Sri Lanka as a local charity and continued to work tirelessly to help the families living in the camps come to terms with their loss. He understood their grief as many of his own family also perished during the tsunami. Anthony leads and inspires a dedicated team of local staff and volunteers who are a respected and trusted part of the community. Without them, this program would not exist.
Earlier Rose Charities Programs in Kalmunai
Directly after the tsunami, Rose Charities Canada sent pediatric teams to work in the Kalmunai Base Hospital, running the pediatric wards, conducting clinics and visiting the camps. Quickly the program changed its focus to counseling the traumatized children. With the help of Canadian experts, Rose Charities developed a training program for Community Support Workers who learned the skills of recognizing and helping children who were suffering. This program was introduced into all the schools and camps and over 10,000 gained access to counseling. A year later, the parents asked Anthony to assist with the children’s education. Due to the disruption of the tsunami, they had lost many months of schooling and were struggling to catch up. Anthony and the Rose Charities Team developed an educational support program available to all high school students that would help them through their exams.
With a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency, the program was extended to include inter-racial sports and other peace building activities, that would help diminish the tensions in the community developed during the civil war. By 2007, it was apparent that many families were still living in camps, without a steady income and had not been able to find a way out of poverty. With a grant of $5000 the microcredit program was born.