As the world remembers the first anniversary of one of the world's deadliest disasters with tears and prayers, efforts are still being made to repair the damages.
A year after the Indian Ocean tsunami, the international Christian relief organization, World Vision announced that they will strengthen their recovery programs.
"Our recovery program in 2006 will be larger than this year's, allowing even more support to be provided to those affected by the tsunami," Rein Paulsen, Asia Tsunami Response Team's (ATRT) operation director said.
On Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.15 magnitude earthquake set off a series of tsunamis that took the lives of over 200,000 people and displaced millions from some dozen countries, which were inundated by waves measuring up to 25 meters in height. A year later, many are still living in tents, temporary shelters or wooden barracks.
In response to the devastation, World Vision continues to provide relief in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and Myanmar.
Some of the relief includes providing food aid to over 500,000 people and supporting at least 200 Child Friendly Spaces and 138 playgrounds that keep the children away from dangers such as collapsed buildings.
Although construction of permanent shelter is underway, with plans to build more than 13,000 homes, World Vision has constructed thirty schools and provided 134,000 children with educational supplies in order to help them return to school.
The relief has continued on to rebuilding the tsunami-affected communities and the local economy by funding jobs for 12,000 people in debris clearing, digging drainage ditches and building roads.
World Vision said that more than 13,000 families have been empowered to restart their lives in the fishing industry. In order to help them down this path, World Vision has provided loans and productive assets, as well as skills training to rebuilding a busy market, and funding a batik-making and boat-building centers to help grow the local economies.
"The ability of communities and households to bounce back after the tsunami has been remarkable. The unprecedented size of the response mounted this year is testament to the resilience of communities and dedication of those involved in this effort," Paulsen said.
Some of the staff from World Vision, who took part in a commemoration ceremony that included a special candle-lighting in Thailand's Phuket resort, were impacted themselves after losing family members, relatives and friends.
"For them this has been a personal response as well as a World Vision response that has helped to bring healing," Ian Curtis ATRT Director said. "I am so grateful to each one of them for their dedication, but we need to remember to pray for those who were personally impacted as the anniversary will reopen deep wounds."
World Vision plans to serve the tsunami-affected communities for the next 2-5 years, implementing programs that will support the communities, paying close attention to the needs of the children.
"This has been a year of impossibilities becoming possible, a series of minor miracles, of daunting targets and activity schedules becoming achievable and realized through the dedication of so many people," Curtis said. "God's hand has really been on us as we have seen His Grace in so many ways."