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» 01/20/2005 16:16
INDIA
After the tsunami children are our hope, says Andamans Bishop
World Health Organisation chooses a Catholic hospital on the Nicobar Islands as its disease surveillance centre.

Port Blair (AsiaNews) – Children and their stories are inspiring tsunami survivors on the Andamans, one of the hardest-hit areas by the December 26 tsunami.

"It is a blessing to see sadness and despair turn into relief thanks to the smiling faces of children playing near the Cathedral," said Mgr Aleixo das Neves Dias, Bishop of Port Blair, the Catholic diocese of the Andamans.

The Catholic Cathedral of Maria Stella Maris has become the largest refugee centre for tsunami survivors on the Islands. The building and a nearby school are now home to some 1.400 people. A big TV screen has been set up to give the displaced some distraction.

A 13-year-old boy who refused to let go of his 2-year-old sister is staying at the Missionaries of Charity hostel which is normally reserved for women.

The Islands' death toll is estimated at around 7,500.

Bishop Dias heads a diocese serving some 40,000 Catholics spread across 576 islands and organised into 13 parish churches. The local clergy is made of 14 diocesan priests, 14 missionaries of St Francis Xavier (Pilar Fathers), 4 Jesuits, 3 Salesians and 2 Capuchins. There are also 86 nuns from 14 different congregations.

Evangelisation of the Islands began with the Pilar Fathers. "But now," Bishop Dias said, "40 years of missionary work has to start over again".

Most of the local 180 or so chapels must be rebuilt. Many churches, too, were swept away by the tsunami and must be reconstructed

However, government officials have not been cooperating with Church staff in the relief work, according to the Bishop. They only come for official functions.

"Ever since survivors found refugee in our buildings we have been giving them food, clothing and medicines," Bishop Dias said.

The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has already sent US$ 30,000 to the Indian Pilar Fathers and finance some of the relief and reconstruction work. PIME is still urging people to donate money to help it help tsunami victims.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has chosen St John's Catholic Hospital on the Nicobar Islands (southern Andamans) as its disease surveillance centre from where it can assess the situation in the tsunami-affected areas.

"A team of doctors and paramedical staff from St John's, a premier hospital run by Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), will document diseases and help in the prevention of disease outbreaks," said Dr. Sanjiv Lewin, head of the hospital's paediatric unit. A second team is setting up health care posts across the islands.

The hospital is also working towards rebuilding the education system. "We found that at least 88 of the 150 odd teachers were either missing or dead. Most schools have been swept away," Dr Lewin said. The hospital will raise resources to build schools and enrol children. (LF-SD)


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See also
01/20/2005 ITALY - ASIA
PIME tsunami campaign to assist Andaman Islands
01/26/2005 ASIA
A month after the tsunami Christians leading reconstruction efforts
12/30/2004 INDIA
Salesians in Chennai: "People are helping, the government is slow"
04/25/2005 ITALY - ASIA
PIME's tsunami campaign raises over 1.6 million euros
01/05/2005 EU - ASIA
Europe, 3-minute silence for dead and missing
INDIA
Only Catholic Church left on Andaman Islands to help tsunami victims
ITALY - ASIA
PIME's tsunami campaign raises over 1.6 million euros
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Christian Mizoram donates bamboo to tsunami victims
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Church in Andhra Pradesh leads fishermen back to the sea
INDONESIA - SRI LANKA
NGO cries foul as Paris Club set to penalise tsunami-stricken countries
asia
Tsunami death toll now in 170,000-182,000 range
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Many flock back to God on the Andaman Islands
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Relief from the Himalaya for tsunami victims
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PIME's tsunami reconstruction campaign raised almost 600,000 euros
India – Tsunami
Missionaries: we help tsunami victims to start life anew
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Tsunami survivors sue Thai government
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In the wake of tragedy Hindus, Muslims and Christians seek healing at the Lourdes of the East
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Tamil Nadu fishermen ask state government for safe homes not far from the shore
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Sea apostolate working for tsunami-stricken fishermen, says Card Fumio Hamao
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UN World Tourism Organisation in Phuket to discuss industry recovery
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Caritas office in Jaffna complains that relief is being hampered by government bureaucracy
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Gilbert, a post-tsunami hero
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Government plans penalise fishermen and Church
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New boats for fishermen who survived the tsunami
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Sri Lanka, women survivors of tsunami victims of abuses
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Government and rebels turn tsunami aid to their own benefit
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Fishermen most affected by the tsunami
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Threats against missioners come from Indonesia and Malaysia
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Struggling through the emergency to get back to a normal life after the tsunami
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Foreign aid as a Trojan horse for proselytising and espionage
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Situation getting worse by the day for orphans
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Tsunami aid must be quick and on target
ITALY – ASIA
PIME Campaign for tsunami victims in Asia: An update
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Sponsor a child, national forum at PIME headquarters in Milan
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Islamic laws suspended because of Tsunami emergency
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Houses, boats, schools and scholarships for tsunami victims
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Tsunami toll could rise to 200,000: UN official
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Foreign debt moratorium for tsunami-hit countries
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Tsunami dalits discriminated by government and NGO
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Pakistani Church close to Sri Lankan victims
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Post-tsunami support for children
SAUDI ARABIA – ASIA
Tsunami: Little aid from Arab countries
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Adoption ban in Sri Lanka
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After tsunami cynicism assails Christians, Muslims and Hindus
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Thai Catholics start reconstruction after the tsunami
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Religious and caste discrimination in government aid distribution in Tamil Nadu
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Mullaithivu, the tsunami and the civil war
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Small signs of things getting back to normal in Banda Ache and Meulaboh
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UN urges donors at Jakarta conference to give US$ 1bn for tsunami emergency
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Inter-faith prayer for tsunami victims in Phuket
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Children, victims but also evangelisers, says the Pope
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Hope is found in faith in Tamil Nadu tragedy
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Rescue workers discriminate against ethnic Chinese tsunami victims
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Pupils eager to study, relieved to find schoolmates
THAILAND
After the tsunami Thai Church to help the illiterate and the needy
INDONESIA
Famine haunts the population of Simeuleu Island
VATICAN - ASIA
Pope joins Europe in mourning tsunami victims
EU - ASIA
Europe, 3-minute silence for dead and missing
INDONESIA
At least 20 tsunami orphans victim of child trafficking
SRI LANKA
Sri Lankan Bishops urge prayers and action for survivors
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In Jakarta, the world mobilises to prevent other tsunamis
PHILIPPINES
Christians and Muslims pray for tsunami victims
THAILAND - MYANMAR
Myanmar is withholding true casualties figures, says Thai priest
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Aid should be targeted, says Bangkok Cardinal
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INDONESIA - VATICAN
Apostolic Nuncio: The tsunami, survivors and children
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Rumours about children being kidnapped to get government money
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Government and press against orphan trafficking
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Jakarta blocks tsunami orphan adoptions
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Tsunami orphans available for the right price
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Tsunami brings US and Indonesia closer
VATICAN - ASIA
God never abandons us, even in a calamity, says Pope
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Buddhists pray for the dead, elephants help in post-tsunami recovery
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Pope will remember tsunami victims and rescuers in midnight mass
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Indonesia's airspace now open to foreign relief operations
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International community mobilising for south and south-east Asia
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As the sea returns the dead it claimed, reconstruction becomes urgent in Tamil Nadu
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The poor's show of solidarity
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Bishops look at 2004
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Kuala Lumpur suspends expulsion of Indonesian immigrants
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Msgr Gomis, Archbishop of Colombo: "My journey into the tsunami inferno"
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Catholics show compassion and empathy to Muslim Acehnese victims
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Catholic aid in Asia going to quake victims
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Pope appeals for help in favour of Asia
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Java and Bali fear another tsunami
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Parish priest in Phuket: "A tragedy, worst hit are the poor"
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