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Oxfam: Eid and the Tsunami

Media Release
For immediate release: 21 January 2005

Oxfam: Eid and the Tsunami

This Friday marks the Muslim festival of Eid-ul Adha, the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar. As Muslims in the affected areas prepare for the festival, Oxfam shows how this Eid will be very different from normal.

The tsunami claimed the lives of over 150,000 people in Banda Aceh and the surrounding areas. Most of the victims were Muslims.

Those that survived or lost family and friends are traumatised and left to pick up the pieces of their lives.

"This Eid people are feeling sad and thinking about the family that they have lost in the tsunami. We will be praying for a brighter future for everyone," said Nana, 29, a local health worker.

Others cannot contemplate anything but grief.

"I can't stop thinking about my children who I lost in the tsunami. I can't sleep at night because of all the memories. I can't even think about Eid" said Dara a woman living in a camp for homeless people in the Defakevdee district of Aceh.

The festival of Eid-ul Adha marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca known as the Hajj. Every year two million Muslims from around the world travel to Mecca to perform the hajj and reaffirm their faith.

On the day of Eid-ul Adha, Muslims perform a special Eid prayer at the mosque. It's obligatory for Muslims to wear new clothes and to give money to charity to be used to help the poor. It's also obligatory for Muslims to offer a qurban (sacrifice of a sheep or a lamb) to those who are poor or in need of food.

"I'm lucky because I still have my family and will spend the day with them, we will exchange a few gifts and have a family meal," said Ilhaam,49, a resident of Banda Aceh.

"Eid will be different this year. People in Aceh are unable to buy a qurban because they have lost their families, their homes and many people don't have a job anymore and very little money. Instead Muslims from Indonesia and across the world are providing the survivors of the tsunami with the qurban. People are also unable to buy new clothes; many don't have hijabs or other items of clothing to pray. This year Eid will be a day to remember and share one another's pain," said Habibah Suratman, an Oxfam public health worker.

Oxfam is working in Banda Aceh and the surrounding areas providing water and sanitation to displaced people and communities. Oxfam Public health teams are distributing soap and hygiene kits to displaced people along with providing public health education.


Editors notes:

- Oxfam New Zealand is an independent secular organisation, working with all people regardless of race or religion. Oxfam New Zealand has no religious or political affiliations, enabling relationships to be developed across political and religious beliefs.

Oxfam is working with a number of ethnic communities within New Zealand to support the tsunami relief effort:

- This year, the celebration of Chinese New Year will also be an occasion for the Auckland Chinese community to show their support and solidarity with the people of Asia whose lives have been devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami. The Auckland Chinese Community Centre is joining together with Oxfam New Zealand to raise money for the tsunami appeal at the Epsom Showgrounds, Halls 2 and 3, tomorrow (Saturday 22nd January) from 10am to 3pm.

- Oxfam is working with the Sri Lankan communities in Auckland and Wellington to raise money for relief and reconstruction in Sri Lanka, including concerts planned to be held in Wellington in March. Oxfam has two water engineers in the Batticaloa area of Sri Lanka, working long hours under tough conditions to restore water supplies, and is assisting Sri Lankan doctors with funding for the dispatch of medical supplies.

- Volunteers from across the range of Asian communities in New Zealand have volunteered to help Oxfam fundraise for the appeal, in streets, shopping centres and public events.

- Oxfam has undertaken outreach to the diaspora communities in New Zealand to support specific events, such as a concert to be held at the Aotea Centre next Wednesday 26th January at 8pm. The concert is a collaboration with the Auckland Philharmonia and the Royal New Zealand Navy Band, both of whom have donated their talents to support the Tsunami appeal.

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