Rome - 31 December 2004 for SSpS and SVD Mission Secretaries and Mission Animators





4. Indonesia Update - FOCUS ON NIAS ISLAND




Fr. Antonio Pernia, the SVD Superior General, sends the following messages:

To our confreres in the affected areas:  "We are very grateful that none of you was hurt in the disaster - this blessing gives us an opportunity to help others who are suffering. This crisis gives us a particular opportunity to reach out and help people of other religious traditions. We will do our best to support your efforts by informing our benefactors, surely their support will be forthcoming."

To confreres around the world: "Governments are getting organized to show global solidarity. Similarly, we want to show Society-wide solidarity with our confreres in India and Indonesia. The general council is discussing ways in which this solidarity can best be expressed in the coming months and years."

To our benefactors: "We are always grateful for your generous support and solidarity, but especially so in this time of great need. The immensity of the disaster is such that every donation will be helpful. Many small gifts together can do a great deal of good.

To all: "Along with the material need, those who have suffered in the disaster will need emotional encouragement and spiritual help to overcome the crisis and begin life again. Let us be fervent and generous in our prayers for them."

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Fr. Lazar G., the SVD provincial from the Hyderabad Province, sends the following information and appeal:

"We are doing our best with two teams of confreres on two different areas. Immediate relief measures are underway. At the same time we are planning for longer term rehabilitation work. That work takes a long period and needs to be done systematically.

"I have already sent eight confreres to help with on the relief work in Tamil Nadu. I have also asked our communications coordinator to provide regular updated reports. Fr. Selvam A. and Fr. Kingston Kudalane, who are already assigned to Tamil Nadu, are on the spot helping with the relief team as well as reporting to you and to the province.

"In five villages the bodies are not yet recovered, our confreres are with the parish priest helping him to unearth the bodies. The government is asking us to go only to certain villages due to epidemic. Thus far no casualty from our confreres or their relatives.

"There was a false alarm about another tsunami on the way within 24 hours. People are just scared!!!!! Some people do not want any help but to run away from the camps. Unimaginable situation.

"My humble request is for your prayers. I strongly believe only God can save the situation. We have asked for prayers in our Charismatic centres and other parishes."

[Contact Fr. Lazar SVD at: or]

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Fr. Savarimuthu Devadass SVD, the director of Divine Word Social Service Society, and Fr. Selvam SVD, the director of Arnold Communications, sent the following report on 30 December 2004:

"Greetings from SVD – INH Province. We are deeply grateful for the timely financial assistance that you had extended towards rescue operations of the tsunami victims in the state of Tamil Nadu.  I would like to update the present situation through this small report.

"So far the confirmed deaths from this Tsunami catastrophe in the State of Tamil Nadu is 6100 today and nearly 5,000 people were reported missing, according to the latest figures released by the Union Home ministry. Sixty earth moving machines were used to dig pits for burying the corpses and to remove debris in the affected areas. Mass burial was being carried out at Nambiyar Nagar, Ariyanattu Theru, Pattancheri, Nagore and Velankanni. More bodies were being extricated from the debris in Velankanni, Nagore and Nagapattinam coastal belt. Most of the bodies were decomposed and could not be identified.

"Unfortunately the media is repeating the clippings of the incident and showing the corpses again and again, and the people are psychologically affected -- they need to be counseled, particularly the people who have survived the incident. So we felt the need to form a team of confreres specially to counsel the people and to be with them in this crucial moment. There are three confreres who formed a team and have already plunged into this type of service in the places like Nagapatnam, Vellankanni and Nagore in the district of Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu.

"We have already formed two groups of confreres for the relief camps and these two groups have already covered two different districts namely Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari and visited 18 centres and distributed different items, namely: Rice, Bedsheets, Saris, Towels, Lungis, Utensils, Notebooks for the children and Kerosene. We have distributed the materials in consultation with the parish priests of the respective areas. The Nuns also happily helped us to distribute the needed materials to these poor and homeless.

"The people expect that the Government of India will come to their rescue, helping them to start a new life by providing houses in safer places for the remaining members of the families. So far that is only a dream. Kindly remember the people of affected areas in your prayers."

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4. Indonesia Update - FOCUS ON NIAS ISLAND

Fr. Norbert Betan SVD (the Java Province Coordinator for JPIC) wrote from Jakarta on 29 December 2004:

"All SVD confreres working in North Sumatra and Nias Island are reported safe. Together with them we are now concentrating on the victims and the suffering people in the disaster area.

"We give priority of our relief service to the people on the island of Nias, because the aid of our central government, of the NGOs, and the international organizations are directed primarily to Aceh. The first thing we did was to establish a relief coordination for Nias Island. Fr. Kris Kia SVD and Fr. Venan OFM Cap. are leaving tonight by boat to Southern part of Nias which was gravely damaged by the tsunami. They could not go earlier because the communication and transportation were completely cut off. With both of them we now have telephone contact. They will organize our relief service in the field.

"Public transportation, communication, electricity, and public infrastructures were all damaged. The bridges were ruined and the roads are blocked. So it is very difficult to bring relief aid to the disaster area. In several places the emergency aid is dropped from helicopters.

"In Banda Aceh, Meulaboh and other towns the dead bodies are piling up and the survivors are too weak and desperate to help themselves. The situation in the remote villages is grimmer. Actually at the moment there is a lot of emergency aid coming from all sides, but we are struggling to reach suffering people in the remote disaster area."

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Fr. Willi Reidel SVD wrote from Jakarta on 30 December 2004:

"The immediate needs are for food, clean water, medicine, clothing, plastic sheeting to shroud the dead, face masks, gloves, means of transport. Many volunteers will also be needed. Road repair and reestablishment of communications is urgent.

"SVD priests and brothers staff five parishes in the area of northern Sumatra. The parishes are: St. Konrad in Martubung, St. Fidelis in Dolok Sanggul/Lintong and St. Joseph in Lawe Desky (Medan Diocese); St. Francis Assisi Parish in Tuhemberua on the Island of Nias and the Church in Pinangsori (Diocese of Sibolga).

"The diocese of Medan has established a relief commission - and Fr. Josef Due SVD has been named as the coordinator. It will help to coordinate material aid and volunteers (including doctors) in the affected areas. The SVD parishes of North Sumatra and elsewhere are taking up collections of money and gathering goods that can be of immediate help. The distribution will be managed by the Diocesan commission."

[Contact Fr. Willi Riedel SVD at:]

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Items for the SVD/SSpS Mission Animation Bulletin Board can be sent to:

Tom Ascheman SVD

Mary John K. SSpS

SVD Generalate Mission Secretary

SSpS Generalate Mission Secretary