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Caritas Sri Lanka - SEDEC (Social Economic Development Centre)
Caritas Sri Lanka (Social and Economic Development Centre) was founded in 1968 by visionary priest, Father Joe Fernando, amidst concerns that social inequalities had left thousands of people dependent on subsidies and handouts.
In addition to tackling poverty, which was worsened by a two-decade civil war, its other major challenge has been in helping survivors of the tsunami disaster of 2004, which left 30,000 people dead in Sri Lanka alone. Caritas Sri Lanka helped 24,000 families in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, providing cooking utensils, clothing and mosquito nets to those whose homes were destroyed.
Caritas Sri Lanka, with support from Caritas Internationalis member organizations, built 6,500 transitional shelters and completed about 8,000 permanent houses. Other work included:
Caritas Sri Lanka's work has now moved into the rehabilitation phase. This includes helping rebuild homes more resilient to disaster and supporting long-term livelihoods through measures ranging from community cooperatives to skills training.
The agency’s many other projects have continued in the midst of its tsunami commitments. These include micro-credit schemes for organic farming, education and prevention programmes on alcohol, drugs and extortion, and a Women’s Development Unit to promote the rights of women and awareness of their vulnerability to crimes such as human trafficking, and peace and conflict resolution.
Considering reality of the country, Caritas Sri Lanka has established an inter-religious leaders forum and working closely with other religious leaders on the peace building and advocacy.