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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

UNICEF Executive Board President sees post-tsunami reconstruction in Thailand

© UNICEF Thailand/2005
Ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi with Lao Sri Yaang in Bang Muang shelter, some 130 km from Phuket.

By Robert Few

PHANG NGA, Thailand, 21 August – H. E. Ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi of the Islamic Republic of Iran, President of the Executive Board of UNICEF, last week visited areas of southern Thailand devastated by the 2004 tsunami, to see firsthand how communities are rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.
Bang Sak school in Phang Nga province was destroyed by the tsunami and rebuilt. At the school, the Ambassador met with teachers and children. The school has been resupplied with new equipment and materials, with support from UNICEF and partners. Educational grants have been provided for children who lost their parents in the tsunami.

Ambassador Danesh-Yazdi also visited the Bang Muang Shelter, home to some 900 families who lost their homes in the tsunami. While there he met Lao Sriyang, who earlier that very day had identified the body of her daughter, confirming a death which she had gradually been forced to accept during many months of waiting.

© UNICEF Thailand/2005
Children studying at Bang Sak school in Phang Nga province. The school was destroyed by the tsunami and rebuilt with support from UNICEF and partners.

Community spirit

The Ambassador also talked with Kanchana Tongsrigaew, who lost 19 members of her family. She is pregnant; her new child is likely to be born in the shelter while she waits for a permanent home.

In the same shelter, the Ambassador visited a UNICEF-supported early-learning centre staffed with teachers, social workers and psychiatrists, who provide basic education for the children in the shelter and help them cope with lingering trauma caused by the tsunami.

Clearly moved, the Ambassador expressed his condolences to all of those he met who had endured terrible losses during the catastrophe, and his hope that the indomitable spirit of the community would, with the necessary support, allow for a return to normalcy in the near future.

Richard Zimmerman contributed to this story from New York.



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