On December 26, 2004, an earthquake measuring 9.3 on the Richter scale shook the bottom of the Indian Ocean, triggering a series of massive waves that crashed against the shorelines of 11 countries, killing more than 230,000 people. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history.
After Indonesia, the death toll was highest on the island of Sri Lanka, where tourism and the fishing industry are concentrated along the coast. The tsunami caused widespread destruction to homes, businesses and agricultural land.
It struck a country already devastated by a decades-long civil war, as the Tamil Tigers fought to create an independent state. After the tsunami, a dispute over how to administer emergency aid funds only led to further conflict. Approximately 100,000 people lost their lives in the civil war before the Tamil Tigers were finally defeated in 2009.
In the aftermath of war and tragedy, The Salvation Army is supporting the people of Sri Lanka as they recover—not only by helping with their physical needs, but also by providing spiritual support as they heal from the deep emotional scars left by the terror of the tsunami.
I travelled to Sri Lanka with a team from the world missions department, along with Commissioner Susan McMillan, territorial commander, to capture in photos the work of The Salvation Army, to meet people and listen to their stories. These photos reflect the courage and resilience they’ve shown in rebuilding their lives.