PIME: a picture of post-tsunami reconstruction aid
Milan (AsiaNews) Thanks to thousands of benefactors, groups, parishes, diocesan missionary centres (Novara deserves special mention), and private entrepreneurs and firms, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) collected nearly two million Euros for its campaign for victims of the tsunami in southeast Asia.
A large part of donations for PIME (970,000 Euros) came from the TG4 of Mediaset, which earmarked a quota of funds from its public to the population of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India. Launched shortly after the catastrophe on 26 December, the campaign focuses on short to medium-term help and makes use of on-site resources of PIME missionaries and of the NGO New Humanity, which was set up by PIME to implement projects for solidarity and human development. Relief programs, many of which have already drawn to a close, were largely aimed at the youth bracket of the population to assure a future for new generations and to meet their training needs, especially in a situation where the loss of a parent and precarious economic conditions weigh heavily against plans for the future.
Exactly six months after the tragedy, PIME, which gave periodic updates about the progress of aid, gives a picture of the campaign.
- In the Andaman and Nicobar islands (which form part of India but are situated 36 hours by boat away from the Indian coast, off the coast of Myanmar), the program was coordinated by an Indian PIME priest, Anthony Totha. The project aims are: construction of a primary school and two hostels, a secondary school; supporting scholastic and professional instruction for 500 youths for three years; two churches and six chapels in villages. This project is being implemented in collaboration with the Pilar missionary priests, who are also Indian. The budget for this work is 1,270,000 Euros.
- In the State of Tamil Nadu, one of the hardest-hit by the tsunami, a "let's return to the sea" program was launched, an aid and development project geared especially towards fishing communities. The project consists of: acquisition of boats and fishing equipment; provision of basic needs; support for education of youths and children coming from families struck by the Tsunami; reconstruction of an orphanage; supporting the activities of Nirmala Hospital in Karinkal run by the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception, PIME sisters; medical assistance through mobile clinics in two villages. The budget is estimated at 397,000 Euros. The first boats have already been delivered enabling fishing communities to resume their work.
- A similar project was launched in the state of Andhra Pradesh, called "Hope after the storm" to provide assistance to the population of a village called Pallethallepalem. Apart from resumption of economic activities through the acquisition of boats and fishing equipment, the program is also involved in the launching of market gardening and cattle breeding; organising water systems and setting up new wells for drinking water; reconstruction of homes and the community centre; scholarships for village youths. The budget is estimated at 189,300 Euros.
Thailand and Myanmar
In Thailand, two projects are being financed: a psychological support centre for survivors in eight coastal villages; intervention for 155 families of Moken ethnicity (so-called "sea gypsies"). Local resource people for the two projects are PIME missionaries Fr Adriano Pelosin for the first and the Padri Stimmatini for the second. The sums allocated are 124,000 and 17,500 Euros respectively.
In recent weeks, PIME has received more requests to set up new projects. From these, the possibility of supporting the Good Shepherd Home in Tamil Nadu, India, is being considered. This is a project for tsunami orphans, and 50 children will be helped until they complete their compulsory education and until they have been integrated into society. The budget requested for the project adds up to 54,000 Euros.