Above: AFAP contractor George Wells (right) shows Youth Center construction to visiting Knorr-Bremse officials in May 2006. Below: The Youth Center's opening on 26 August 2006.
Visions of Hope Children's Center opening 2006
Knorr-Bremse Global Care funded construction of a community swimming pool in Pandiruppu
Knorr-Bremse Global Care also funded the construction of this community swimming pool in Pandiruppu (above) where Youth Center children today learn to swim and overcome their lingering fear of the ocean (below).
Nava Shakti children at Pandiruppu Community Center pool

Knorr-Bremse Global Care e.V.

Knorr-Bremse Global Care e.V. was set up by Knorr-Bremse in January 2005 with the aim of providing carefully targeted, effective help to the victims of the December 2004 tsunami disaster in South East Asia. The association pursues exclusively charitable aims. Its intention is to provide long-term aid to individuals who are in need as a result of environmental catastrophes, accidents, armed conflict, poverty or disease. Practical implementation of projects is actively supervised by members of Knorr-Bremse Global Care e.V.

Kalmunai-Pandiruppu was one of the places worst affected by the tsunami of December 26, 2004. Knorr-Bremse Global Care supports a youth center for traumatized children and young people. Most of them have lost parents, siblings, relatives and friends. Like one boy, now nine years old, who hung onto a cable for 45 minutes calling for help until a neighbor rescued him from his flooded house. Or a little girl, then six, who managed to hold onto a branch but had to watch helplessly as her mother and four sisters were swept away by the flood waters and drowned.

Another boy was eight years old when the flood wave hit. It was a long time before he stopped waking up at night because of nightmares. And he still burst into tears when he talks about his best friend and his small cousins who all died in the flood waters.

Dinah Barton, a British homeopath, had visited Sri Lanka on holiday before the tsunami struck. When the disaster happened she decided to go and help. She stayed in Sri Lanka for two years helping the victims and soon became aware of a local initiative: A self-help group had set up after-school care for 75 children in the ruins of a house.

"I was deeply impressed by so much initiative with so few resources. So I looked for ways of supporting this project. Barton told South Asia expert Patrick Harrigan.

An American by birth, Harrigan has been living in Sri Lanka since 1988. As Executive Director of the Sri Lanka Childrens Trust, he coordinated the land purchase and construction of the youth center. The funds for the construction and equipment of the center were provided by Knorr-Bremse Global Care.

The volunteer assistants at the youth center are themselves people who have been aff ected by the tsunami. Kamsala is one of four voluntary assistants who were there from the start. When the disaster occurred she was 17 years old. Luckily, at the time, she and her family were staying in Colombo, the capital on the west coast, which escaped the tsunami.

But many of her relatives died in the floods, and when she returned she found her home was no longer there. Today she teaches Tamil at the Pandiruppu Youth Center and helps the children to get over their traumatic experiences. Group activities include excursions, health checks, swimming, computer courses and trauma therapy. The children also receive free meals, which their poor families would not be able to afford.

Dinah Barton is confident about the future: "This year we have launched a morning program for 25 affected children of pre-school age, she explains. "We will stay for as long as the children and their families need our help. If they grow into healthy adults we will have done a good job.

More about Knorr-Bremse Global Care's Rebuilding program for Kalmunai
Knorr-Bremse Global Care e.V.
Global Care