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Pain of Easter lingers for many in Sri Lanka this Christmas

Sunday April 21, 2019 will forever be remembered as a dark day in Sri Lanka’s history. The Easter Sunday bombings claimed 259 lives but affected so many more. Catholic Mission’s Christmas Appeal shows that now, as much as ever, support is needed.

If there could possibly be a silver lining to the Easter Sunday Sri Lanka bombings, it was the international community’s response. Church and secular organisations, including Catholic Mission, immediately rallied behind survivors, contributing funds which helped sustain immediate relief programs started by the government and the Church.

National Director of Catholic Mission, Father Brian Lucas, visited in August with United States National Director Father Andrew Small. ‘One of the things that moved me greatly in Colombo was meeting survivors in person,’ says Fr Lucas. ‘They will need many more prayers, but they will also need professional trauma counselling and other means of support.’

Catholic Mission’s Christmas Appeal aims to raise vital funds for programs offering those avenues of support, as well as educational scholarships for children who have lost parents.

There are hundreds of tragic stories from that day, among them Susantha, who lost his wife, his two daughters, and seven-year-old son in the deadly Colombo bombings. He relives the trauma each day as his work as a taxi driver forces him to drive past the church where they lost their lives.

Catholic Mission’s Christmas Appeal shares the story of Susantha and others like him in Sri Lanka, as they come to grips with the devastating events that shook their country and work to rebuild their lives. The Church is by their side, implementing programs that provide women, men and children with the resources and support they need to recover and grow from the tragedy.

‘This support is not only expensive and likely needed over many years, it must also be highly tailored to the special needs of the individual survivors,’ says Fr Lucas.

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Father Basil Fernando, National Director of Catholic Mission in Sri Lanka, and his team have been instrumental in the creation of trauma counselling programs for people like Susantha, as well as scholarships for children who have lost their parents. ‘I am trying to launch programs to provide immediate relief to children and families affected by the bombing and to provide long-term trauma counselling and spiritual care for victims and their families,’ Fr Fernando says.

‘We appeal to you to come forward and assist us in carrying out these programs, however you can. We are taking every opportunity to be of help and support to the affected in every way possible. We kindly look forward to your generous assistance in our darkest hours.’

Over 270 children have been assessed for educational scholarships so they can attend school and receive a good education for a brighter future. Programs like these are vital in supporting the survivors of the Easter Sunday attacks both now and into the future as the country rebuilds.

A generous gift this Christmas can support vital programs such as trauma counselling for people like Susantha, and education scholarships for children who have lost their parents.