Commemorating 8th Anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, The "Tsunami Plus 10" Project Releases Short Film on Disaster's Legacy on Local Communities and Lessons for Today

Los Angeles, CA - Film focuses on Sri Lanka to capture the rarely told story of disaster recovery and highlights the Diversified Disaster Giving principles for effective charitable giving.

On the 8th Anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and on the heels of Hurricane Sandy and the debut of the film “The Impossible,” philanthropy expert Mike Rea, founder of the “Tsunami Plus 10” Project (www.TsunamiPlus10.org), and project collaborator and videographer Mayra Padilla, release a short film, To Sandy, from Sri Lanka”, that takes a rare look, years later, at the tsunami’s long-term impact on communities hardest hit and draws lessons from that experience to apply to disasters striking closer to home.

This short film is a video companion to the recently published Beyond The Impossible, a viewers guide that provides the larger context for the events of December 26, 2004 and the subsequent global response and recovery, for the newly released film “The Impossible” featuring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. 

From 2000 - 2008, Mike Rea was the co-founder, president and CEO of Give2Asia, which is responsible for over $200 million in personalized philanthropy throughout Asia. In 2004, Rea was personally responsible for working with tsunami donors and for approving tsunami grants to Asian nonprofits. Long after the immediate work from that disaster was done, lingering questions remained: Did the donations make a lasting difference? How does the promise of philanthropy play out over almost a decade, with the full benefit of hindsight? Where are individual beneficiaries from those projects today?

These and other questions took Rea back to Sri Lanka in August 2012 along with collaborator Padilla. Through their travels and the extraordinary access they were granted to both individuals and local organizations, they personally saw how Give2Asia’s charitable contributions made a big difference over time and where they could do things differently.

To Sandy, from Sri Lanka, is the first, short documentary of their two-year journey leading up to the 10th anniversary.  It is a rare reflection in the world of philanthropy, a look back nearly 8 years after the original disaster that explores what’s been accomplished and the work that still remains to be done.

The film begins with personal accounts of what the morning of December 26, 2004 was like for Sri Lankans who survived the tsunami, which was a wholly unknown phenomenon. The film follows the duo as they travel through Sri Lanka to visit organizations that received tsunami aid such as the Chef’s Guild and Sarvodaya which provided uniquely local opportunities appropriate for their communities.

The Chef’s Guild sponsored a culinary program that trained over 100 students from damaged fishing communities in the South and provided them with culinary and baking skills, leading to new careers in Sri Lanka and overseas.

Sarvodaya, with Give2Asia support received from Marvell Technologies, provided the diverse youth in the area - Burgher, Muslim, Sinhalese, and Tamil an expanded vocational training center offering trainings for would be mechanics, computer programmers and nurse assistants. The center also served as a safe haven for youth during the years after the tsunami when the civil conflict resumed in the North and East of Sri Lanka. Viewers meet a computer student who lost ten years of her life as a child soldier

Like the guide before it, To Sandy, from Sri Lanka introduces the principles of Diversified Disaster Giving, which advocates for three shifts in current giving practice: (1) give to recovery in addition to relief, (2) give to local organizations as well as multi-national organizations, and (3) give more than once, supporting immediate appeals but also reserving some of your giving decisions for later.

According to Rea, convenience, habit and lack of knowledge generally lead people to donate solely to large international relief organizations, which he believes certainly have vital roles to play. However, he advises a diversified giving strategy for donors of any means who want to make a lasting difference. This film’s footage brings Diversified Disaster Giving principles to life for the purpose of not only building back, but where possible, building back better. These principles apply even when giving domestically, such as to Hurricane Sandy recovery: give to community-based organizations, give to recovery, and give again and stay involved, for the road to recovery is only just beginning.

Humbled and inspired by their trip and evidence of the power of philanthropy, Rea and Padilla established the Tsunami Renewal Fund through Give2Asia. This fund is for those who wish to continue to support the philanthropic opportunity and need in Sri Lanka, Aceh, and other communities affected by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. They are planning to continue their research in Aceh in Summer 2013.

To download the free short film To Sandy From Sri Lanka” and Viewers Guide, “Beyond The Impossible,“ please visit www.tsunamiplus10.org/MINI-DOC.

For anyone looking to leverage the lessons from Tsunami Plus 10, reinvest in what works, and target fresh opportunities, donations can be made to the Give2Asia Tsunami Renewal Fund by visiting www.give2asia.org/tsunamiplusten.

About The “TsunamiPlus10” Project

The Tsunami Plus 10” Project was created as a public service initiative by philanthropy expert Mike Rea. TsunamiPlus10.org explores the legacy of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and provides the Diversified Disaster Giving (DDG) framework for donors wishing maximum impact from their valuable donations. For more information, please visit www.TsunamiPlus10.org.