25 January 2006 ORT IC pursues expanded programme for tsunami survivors Long after the Asian tsunami receded from the media spotlight, World ORTs International Cooperation (IC) arm continued to quietly, methodically and professionally pursue its programme to help rebuild stricken communities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. On December 26, 2004, more than 45,000 people approximately 10 per cent of the population died when their communities were hit by an earthquake and swamped by the tsunami that followed. Since then, ORT ICs Washington office has been managing two projects: one to assist the education infrastructure of the 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, the Sri Lanka Trauma Counselling and Vocational Training Project, has been made possible thanks to private funds raised by ORT. Last year, ORT ICs local partners ORT India and Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS) were able to expand the educational development components of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands project thanks to economies of scale. This means that a total 20 primary, middle and secondary schools comprising more than 12,500 children are being helped instead of the four schools originally targeted. However, there have been some obstacles. The work plan is on schedule, said ORT IC Project Coordinator Celeste Angus, who is based in Washington. However, during several visits to some of the schools, our teams had to remove snakes from the school buildings and classrooms. And one team was lost in the Indian Ocean for a few hours before returning safely to Port Blair. Institute ORT India Director Benjamin Isaac, left, with Celeste Angus and BJS Director Hemant Misra and wife meet children of the Chouldari School on South Andaman Island. The schools are benefiting from the Educational Quality Improvement Programme (EDUQIP), a basket of 12 programmes including computer education, the installation of school administration software, a management training programme, a teacher training programme (covering topics such as ethics, communication and presentation skills and classroom management), a disaster management programme, school accreditation and extra curricular activities. This basket of programmes is specifically designed to support school and local decision-makers to face the challenges in education, lead the students toward a holistic development, empower teachers for better educational delivery, provide guidance for better utilisation of resources, build bridges with technology, and to collectively contribute in capacity building through excellence in education, Ms Angus said. In Sri Lanka, ORT has teamed up with local partner, the Shilpa Childrens Trust, to contribute to the long term recovery process with initiatives focusing on vocational training, livelihood recovery and trauma counselling for displaced children and orphans. To ensure that the families benefiting from ORTs programmes continue to make improvements in their standard of living, a follow-on activity has been developed: the Improved Agriculture and Livelihoods Project, which will help people in one of Sri Lankas poorest districts which also happened to be one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami. The project, which is funded by the JDC, aims to ensure that the parents and guardians of 276 tsunami affected children in Shilpas sponsorship programme are able to support their families once the relief programme ends in August next year. The creation and installation of irrigation and sprinkler systems will improve production of cash crops like cashews, fruits and vegetables, Ms Angus said. And improved road access will mean more opportunities for reaching lucrative cash markets. Nearly 200 families will benefit from this. The project is due to start next month, once flooding associated with the monsoon season has subsided. More than two million people have benefited from ORT ICs non-sectarian programmes in 92 countries since 1960. World ORT, founded in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation, with some 200,000 beneficiaries Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries.