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Last Updated: Monday, 10 January, 2005, 15:27 GMT
Kirk leader visits tsunami zone
A villager with the ruins of his home in Sri Lanka
Dr Elliot has heard stories of the devastation in Sri Lanka
The Moderator of the Church of Scotland has been describing the "wounded communities" she has encountered on a visit to the tsunami disaster zone.

Dr Alison Elliot has been meeting aid workers and victims of the Boxing Day earthquake in India and Sri Lanka.

She said that the tragedy is now being followed by a "second wave" of goodwill from countries across the globe.

The moderator, who will be continuing on to Bangladesh, stressed that the full impact of events remained unknown.

Dr Elliot travelled out to Bombay on 3 January, where she met workers involved in the aid effort to the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Most of the people here I've been speaking to know someone who has been lost in the tsunami
Dr Alison Elliot

She also visited Madras and spoke to aid workers and fishermen on the coast whose livelihoods were destroyed.

Speaking in Sri Lanka, she said she had heard "horrific stories" of narrow escapes from people who were on the beaches in Colombo.

She said: "Most of the people here I've been speaking to know someone who has been lost in the tsunami.

"The situation is very different in the three parts of the Indian Ocean, the Nicobar Islands have been devastated, one island has been cut in three.

"In India, down by Madras, things seem to be reasonably well co-ordinated, although the demands are huge."

Orphan support

The moderator said people were getting back into their villages and beginning to rebuild.

She said she saw "smiling faces" as people received bags of flour and pots for the first time.

The situation in Sri Lanka was more complicated, with many areas still difficult to get to.

"There's the devastation of the fishing for many people, because the fishermen have lost nets and boats and the sheer means of livelihood has gone in these cases," said Dr Elliot.

Dr Alison Elliot
The first wave was the tsunami itself, the second wave this last week has been the wave of goodwill towards the people of the disaster area
Dr Alison Elliot

She added: "The whole question of how you deal with the children is very important.

"It has to be very professional work in identifying whether children actually are orphans and trying to identify their parents and if they can be put back with their families.

"You have to have people skilled to do case-work studies with them to find out how they can be matched up with foster parents and so on."

The moderator said that on Nicobar the scale of disaster on the 36 inhabited islands was still not entirely known.

On Sunday, a service was held at the Church of Scotland in Colombo for the international community, bringing together people from the east and west.

Dr Elliot said: "The focus of the service was on the 'second wave', the first wave was the tsunami itself, the second wave this last week has been the wave of goodwill towards the people of the disaster area."

She said that when ministering to a "wounded community" a bit of kindness goes a long way.

The moderator will continue on to Dhaka in Bangladesh before returning to Scotland on 19 January.


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