San Francisco, December 26, 2007 — Three years ago, a devastating tsunami hit Southeast Asia, bringing destruction to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the region. In the months and years since, The Asia Foundation has focused on long-term recovery and reconstruction of institutions, economies and livelihoods. With fifty plus years in the region and local partners on the ground, the Foundation has helped survivors rebuild their communities bit by bit.
- In Indonesia, in the days after the crisis, the Foundation helped Radio 68H restore news service to displaced persons in fifty welfare camps. The network was able to quickly provide crucial information, such as status of water quality, which prevented mothers from unknowingly feeding their babies contaminated water. In 2007, The Foundation supported a micro-finance program creating new economic opportunities for 2,740 women in 52 Acehnese villages to create or expand small business.
- In Sri Lanka, where more than 48,000 people were killed and 1.5 million displaced, the Foundation launched a mobile library initiative to help 80,000 families whose schools and libraries were destroyed. The Foundation turned a fleet of buses into libraries on wheels, stocked with books, laptop computers, a multi-media projector, and educational DVDs. Books include Sinhala, Tamil, and English languages and are geared to school children, university students, and teachers.
- In Thailand thousands of families lost their homes, possessions and legal documents. Land ownership, identification, guardianship for orphaned children, inheritance and unemployment all continue to plague survivors. The Foundation’s Tsunami Rights and Legal Aid Referral Center (T-LAC) helps lawyers and paralegals go door-to-door in tsunami-ravaged provinces dispensing free legal services. In addition, the Foundation is helping administer DNA tests to prove citizenship and issue ID cards – the only way to be eligible for basic services, including going to school, getting health care, applying for a job, or getting a drivers’ license.
- Additionally, The Foundation’s Books for Asia program has put tens of thousands of textbooks into the hands of students in schools operating with extremely limited resources. Phuket, Thailand, teacher Pranorn Maisan and her students sorted and distributed books, so that schools could resume.