Update on tsunami relief work

Source: FSSPX News


February 23, 2005


Dear Friends and Benefactors of SSPX ASIA,

We are arriving at the second post-tsunami month , and it is surely time to update you on the situation and the latest relief efforts done on our part.

Sri Lanka

We have now two instances of our own on the difficulties entailed in helping these brave people.  We have made a bank to bank transfer to help Fr. Rozairo make the downpayment on the 2 acres he is intent in buying.  3 weeks after the transfer, the money had not yet arrived!  We are now going to trace it through our bank manager in the US. The 2 acres plot should have been surveyed this week and the owner, who lives in India, should come before the end of the month to sign the document.  With the continued flow of donations, we should now be in a measure to cover more than half of the purchase of the property for the 129 families.  Fr. Rozairo managed to bring the cost down to around US$180,000 from the original US$300,000 asking price!  The government has also increased the food rations for the 129 families in the camp.

Another instance of greed: a very generous benefactor has sent us 4 containers of medical supplies from the USA.  They arrived safely in Colombo and we were asked to only pay US$56,000 to clear custom!! I can understand the other organization which face a similar situation and which simply took off and went to Indonesia instead!  But we can’t do that.  So, we are solving the awkward problematics using the good services of the Archbishop of Colombo who is aware of our involvement in the Negombo Refugee Camp.

A team of Korean doctors, including one of our own faithful from Seoul, came and spend a whole week in Sri Lanka, including one day in the Camp in Negombo.  Hopefully there will be some medical follow-up to their visit.

Fr. Rozairo visited some of his faithful on the East Coast a few weeks ago.  33 families were still without shelter and aid of any sort more than a month after the tragedy. We have enquired on the possibilities of helping them and within a few days we will buy them 28 fishing nets with which they will each be entitled to receive a fishing boat.


Part 1 -- Tsunami Report from a letter of Fr. Blute, January 31, 2005

Dear Father Couture,

The “twelve apostles” (12 faithful) are daily visiting villages along the affected seacoast area. On the first day, they discovered that giving aid is trickier than it sounds. In one village of 600 people, The people would not accept help for just some of their members... incredible persecutions and jealousies would arise if only some folks got help. At present, the people want to appear as destitute as possible, because the government is going to distribute aid proportioned to their needs, so if they already have nets and a boat, they will get less money... and if we rebuild their house, they won’t get any money from the Government for it. Even one man, whose house was only slightly damaged, is demolishing it so that when the inspectors arrive, they will give more money.  In a first experience, our men were astonished that villagers whose names were not taken (because they did not suffer any loss) became angry, insulting, pugnacious. To satisfy them, they wrote down all their names, and ran away from the place.

Now they go strictly according to my advice, given at first: they dress poorly, and mix with the people secretly, discovering who is really in need. They tell the person one-on-one, “What I’m going to tell you, you have to keep secret. If you tell others, then all aid will stop”. After they promise secrecy, we open the coffers. It seems to work okay. Not all the people are obstructive and conniving... there are plenty of hardworking people who cooperate with their neighbors, receive aid with gratitude, and even refuse to take more aid than is strictly necessary, saying “enough, enough”.

The people are fully supplied with rice, some pots, and household necessities. So we find out from them what else they need, and if it is reasonable, we give all we can, with a general limit of 10,000 rupees (US$240) per person limit, unless they are in dire need, or have a special claim to our charity, like our own parishioners, widows, and large families.

In the first week of distribution, the 12 Apostles bought 3 country boats, and nets for several dozen fishermen. A sewing machine, with cloth and thread, was provided to a woman to help her make a gainful living. Since most of the Apostles are fishermen themselves, they know just what the men need: they have bought sailcloth, hooks, nets, anchors, repair parts, logs (the country boats are simply four big balsawood logs lashed together and caulked, and shaped.) for repairing the boats, etc. We provided vessels for fishwives to carry the fish to market, 30 number.  We paid the hospital bills for some injured persons, bought clothes for a family of 8 children, who lost everything...

Also, we have begun the purchase of land near the sea for relocating those persons displaced by the waves. The government will no longer allow people to live within 500 meters of the sea, and they will not give money for building homes without property. The government will be distributing plots of land, eventually, but most expect this will take years, and they need a place now

This week, we place an order for 10 boats and nets.

As the Apostles become more familiar with the region, they are able quickly to discover the authentic needy people, and bring them material aid.

We also distribute to all a holy card of Our Lady Help of Christians, and encourage people to pray. The Apostles, who have been selected from our Traditional men, were selected because of their deep piety and zeal for the Faith. Thus, they are conducting themselves in a truly supernatural spirit: morning prayers, meals in common, holy Rosary recited while traveling from place to place, and of course, entrusting the whole work to Our Lady, Help of Christians.

Part 2  -- Another letter from Fr. Blute, Feb. 15, 2005

Dear Father Couture,

    I suggested in my last e-mail that with your permission we could set up a fiberglass boat making factory, and give the boats away to victims of the tsunami so they could set their nets and support their families. With a little research, I have been firmly convinced that not only is this a good project, but it will be much easier than I ever thought. You see, one of our faithful in Trichy is actually working for a company making fiberglass boxes and things. She put me in touch with a company in Coimbatore, which makes and sells the raw materials. Their company is currently making 100 fiber boats, also for an aid organization. They also did this kind of work after the terrible Super-Cyclone of 1996, in Andra Pradesh. So they are sending me a complete dossier on “how to”. Furthermore, they are willing to accept 4 to 6 men from our group (unemployed “Apostles”), into their Coimbatore factory for hands-on experience, during which they will receive room, board, and wages. (4 weeks)  Also, their representative, has an experienced “mold-maker” on hand, whom he will send to Palayamkottai, and if we pay his wages, he will supervise the set-up of the workshop, and train another crew of 4 in how to make the molds themselves. He is available immediately, so there is no loss of time. Finding a factory building for rent here is a snap, so by Monday we can begin calling our men together.

The idea of all this is that “why should we pay other people to do what we can do ourselves”. We can distribute the finished products for a greatly reduced amount, and calculate carefully how much “aid” is being distributed (“aid” being calculated as the amount of “free” boats get from our hands to the sands. I am putting this endeavor under the patronage of St. Joseph, and anyone who comes to work there must be a practicing Traditional Catholic, willing to join in morning, noon and evening prayers, and to consecrate themselves and their families to St. Joseph in such a way that they accept the spirit of poverty as a benefit, and also renounce explicitly the practice of birth control. When a profit is gained, we will together think up new projects, new sources of work, and invest what profit there is in expanding the scope of St. Josephs Industrial Council to provide gainful employ for the heads of our Catholic families. To have a pure work environment, where the Holy Days are observed faithfully, and the employees spiritually united in charity and generous help of their fellow Catholics. So if you have more money to give for aid, I suggest you reserve it for us: because if we can give away 100 boats for free, rather than 25, then the investment cost per boat will be a tiny fraction of the total amount. See my point?

Yours in Christo Rege,