ORT IC helps communities rebuild after tsunami


21 October 2005 World ORTs non-sectarian International Cooperation (IC) arm is helping communities devastated by last years tsunami to rebuild. ORT ICs Washington office is managing two projects: one is to assist the education infrastructure of Indias Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which is funded by the JDC, the Jewish Coalition for Asia Tsunami Relief and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington; the other, to support Sri Lanka Trauma Counselling and Vocational Training, has been made possible thanks to private funds raised by ORT. Approximately 10 per cent of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands population more than 45,000 people died as a result of the earthquake and consequent tsunami on December 26, 2004. The islands, in the Bay of Bengal some 1,200 kilometres off the south-east coast of India, shifted four metres south-west during the quake. ORT IC has joined with local partners ORT India and Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS) to provide training and technical assistance for teachers in designated schools in the following 12 fields: computer education, school administration software, accreditation programme, management training, aptitude assessment and evaluation, teacher training, moral and value education, personality development and yoga training, disaster management, sports and other extracurricular activities, social service awareness, motivational awards. Trauma counselling for these Sri Lankan children is an ORT priority. ORT IC Project Coordinator Celeste Angus established financial and programmatic reporting requirements during a visit to the region last month with ORT India Director Benjamin Isaac. She praised BJS for managing to rebuild the schools in time for the new school year. Although this project does not fund the reconstruction of the schools, the recent completion of the schools was a major accomplishment by BJS that has enabled children to return to their studies and begin preparations for the introduction of the basket of 12 programmes, Ms Angus said. A local team of trainers and teachers has been recruited and put in place and planning is underway for a study tour for BJS staff to ORT educational establishments in Argentina and Uruguay. To the south, in Sri Lanka, ORT IC is providing technical assistance and training programmes to help tsunami survivors return to normal life. In cooperation with Shilpas Children Trust and the Womens Development Federation, ORT ICs initiatives focus on vocational training, livelihood recovery and trauma counselling for displaced children and orphans. There is an acute need to train teachers, doctors and other health workers to recognise and treat serious mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, Ms Angus said. Children have been severely affected by the tsunami and are at high risk of mental problems. ORT is providing training for managers, counsellors and supervisory mothers of childrens homes as well as for members of senior administrative levels. In addition, ORT is providing financial oversight of its partner agencies and will monitor the programmes to ensure long term effectiveness and sustainability. ORT-sponsored vocational training focuses on income generation skills including hand embroidery, sewing, cooking and cosmetology. Shilpa has agreed to buy and market the trainees produce. The training groups of women will reside at a Shilpa centre for a week and be taught the basics of embroidery, for example, Ms Angus said. They will be given designs, coloured thread and cloth and will be asked to submit an agreed number of items within a month. Shilpa will then market these products at the crafts shows as well as display them for sale at the Shilpa Home for visitors. More than two million people have benefited from ORT ICs non-sectarian programmes in 92 countries since 1960.