Girls in Edavanakad, India, prepare to welcome Rev. Samuel Kobia, World Council of Churches general secretary, for a brick-laying ceremony of a multi-purpose disaster shelter. The shelter is the last of 85 houses built as part of a tsunami rehabilitation program in the Indian coastal village.
The head of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has concluded a visit to India by laying the foundations for a disaster shelter and community centre at a Muslim-majority village in southern India hit by the December 2005 tsunami.
“Let me assure you that religion or ideology or ethnicity will never be a consideration for us to be in solidarity with you,” Rev. Samuel Kobia, WCC general secretary, told the people of the Edavanakad fishing village who attended the Feb. 20 ceremony.
The multipurpose disaster shelter is being built by the Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), the social welfare wing of 24 Protestant and Orthodox churches in India.
“God sends his angels in times of disasters. These are the angels God sent to us when we stood stunned unable to decide what to do next,” said V. K. Equbal, the Muslim village council president, with his gaze directed towards the Christian dignitaries on the platform.
CASA, with the support of Geneva-based Action by Churches Together (ACT) International (which is supported by the Anglican Church of Canada), has already built 85 disaster-resistant houses in the village where most of the 200 dwellings were swept away by the earthquake-triggered tsunami that wreaked havoc in south and southeast Asia.