NEW YORK – All funds raised by CNEWA for victims of the December 2004 tsunami in southern India – $965,555 – have been disbursed, reported Thomas M. Varghese, CNEWA’s Regional Director for India. In an account to CNEWA’s Secretary General, Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Mr. Varghese noted that the entire collection was used to build permanent housing, care for needy and orphaned children and bolster livelihoods weakened by the disaster. Not one cent was utilized for administration costs or overhead.
Providing shelter was a priority, wrote Mr. Varghese, who is based in the city of Ernakulam in the southwestern state of Kerala. CNEWA built houses for 163 families in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and laid water pipelines in the village of Moottandithopu.
“The best thing we did for children,” Mr. Varghese wrote, “was to get them back to school.” CNEWA bought bicycles, books and uniforms and paid tuition fees for 331 children in the regions of Azheekal, Colachel and Kanyakumari. CNEWA also provided funds for the Bethany Sisters in Kanyakumari to convert a convent and nursery into a home for 60 orphans.
Buying boats in Kottilpadu helped 60 families, while additional funds revived 17 small businesses, such as tea and vegetable stands and dry goods, stationery and tailoring shops.
More is needed, Mr. Varghese wrote. He has identified additional projects costing $517,402. These include the construction of 64 houses, equipping 650 fishermen, and the installation of a drip irrigation system, two water purification plants and 130 compost pits.
Founded in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, CNEWA is a special agency of the Vatican providing support to the church and peoples of the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Africa. Its projects include needy child, seminarian and religious sister sponsorship programs; village redevelopment; health care and education; and public awareness and interreligious dialogue programs.