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World Vision funds top $3m

World Vision funds top $3m – agency's in for the long haul

World Vision NZ's Asia Tsunami Relief Fund tops $3 million, the largest amount the agency has ever raised and the relief operation is scaling up to be the largest World Vision has carried out in its 55 year history.

World Vision began responding to the disaster within hours and currently has over 3700 indigenous staff [and a few NZers - see below] working in the four most affected countries, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Indonesia World Vision has flown 125 tonnes of relief supplies for distributions in Aceh in northern Sumatra. The supplies include food, medicines, generators, water-containers and water purification equipment. New Zealander Heather MacLeod, who heads World Vision International's Child Protection Unit, is establishing child-friendly spaces in relief camps and counselling for traumatised children. The agency is building the first of a number of transition centres, temporary homes to get people out of tents and from under tarpaulins into better accommodation. Each centre contains blocks of 20 homes with tap stands and latrines. The government has identified 24 transition centres to house 30,000 displaced people for up to two years. World Vision is also giving six ambulances to Banda Aceh's RS Zainal Abidin Hospital, and setting up health teams in the relief camps.

India World Vision is distributing relief supplies including food, bottled water, blankets, bed sheets and utensils for thousands of families in south-eastern India. Families are now starting to leave the relief camps and journey back to their homes. New Zealander Judy Moore is helping with logistics and operations in Chennai. In the Andaman Islands, where New Zealander Alex Snary is working, the situation is still pretty dire, with thousands of displaced people from the hard hit Andamans and neighbouring Nicobar Islands cramming into Port Blair. "It's not that they're reluctant to go back to their land," says Alex Snary, "There's literally no land for them to return to. Whole islands have split in half and land has disappeared." Like many countries close to the epicentre, Mr Snary says they're still experiencing aftershocks on a daily basis. World Vision India's initial distribution of basic goods will carry on for another week and then staff will set in place a 90-day programme o f relief and rehabilitation.

Sri Lanka World Vision has organised a series of airlifts into Sri Lanka bringing tarpaulins, blankets, jerry cans, cooking utensils, tents and water filtration systems. The relief supplies are expected to benefit around 150,000 people in nine of the worst affected districts in the country. New Zealand agricultural specialist Grant Janson has just flown to Sri Lanka to help World Vision there.

Thailand World Vision has supplied tents to hundreds of Thais after the huge wall of water smashed their homes in Nam Kem – the worst hit strip of coast in southern Thailand. Tents are also being distributed on Lanta island, south of Phuket, along with food, stoves, blankets and kitchen utensils.

Long Term After the initial six to eight weeks of emergency response, World Vision will be moving into community rebuilding, restoring health and education facilities and supplying psycho-social services, then economic recovery with support for micro-enterprise with loans, training and grants. And the final phase is infrastructure recovery including the rebuilding of schools and homes.

World Vision NZ's CEO Helen Green says this four phase response will continue for three to four years. "We're in there for the long haul, and we're confident New Zealanders will be there with us," she says. "It's an ambitious programme and will require a lot of funding. Globally the agency has raised NZ$215m in private cash donations, and that's been helped by high profile televised events such as the charity cricket matches and concerts, and new initiatives such as a text messaging campaign which is already generating excellent results."

Mrs Green says she's been overwhelmed by the number of companies approaching World Vision with fundraising ventures, such as the Air NZ online auction on Trade-me, New Zealand Cricket, Caltex service stations, and the Parachute Music Festival (28 – 31 January) which aims to raise $50,000 for World Vision's Tsunami Appeal. Some companies have given large donations of $50,000 and fundraising discussions are taking place with other corporates.

"And we've also had a tremendous response over the phone and through the mail from our supporters and people who've never given through World Vision before. It's really touched a chord with New Zealanders," she says.

World Vision is still accepting donations on 0800 80 2000 or http://www.worldvision.org.nz

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