Sarvodaya has been honored by the United Nations for its outstanding humanitarian work after the catastrophic Tsunami of last December. The organization has been presented the 2005 Habitat Scroll of Honor award, a prize that is granted annually by the United Nations Human Settlement Program for outstanding work in the field of settlement and shelter. Sarvodaya is among 8 awardees this year.
In an electronic letter dated September 7th, Francisco Vasquez, the World Habitat Day Coordinator of the program, informed Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, the Executive Director of Sarvodaya, of the honor. Vasquez wrote that Sarvodaya was awarded the Habitat prize because of “the way its well established network was able to intervene effectively when the country was hit by last year’s devastating Tsunami. Within hours, the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement opened a national operations centre that provided half a million dollars worth of humanitarian aid in the first three months.” He went on to commend the organization for its work in towns and villages across Sri Lanka for almost fifty years to promote peace, adequate water and sanitation, a clean environment, and basic health, education, energy, communication, and housing for everyone. Even as the organization continues with this work, it has also made a large commitment towards the Tsunami recovery effort with an intensive, drawn-out plan, which encompasses not only building new homes and providing material comforts to those who lost theirs to the tidal wave, but also organizing programs to alleviate the mental trauma suffered by them.
“We feel very honored and humbled by this award,” Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne said. “It is an inspiration for all the field workers and an encouragement to continue with the work to which they have dedicated their lives.”
The Habitat Scroll of Honor is the UN’s highest award for outstanding contributions by individuals, organizations, governments, or projects in the fields of shelter provision, emphasizing the plight of the homeless, developing human settlement and the quality of urban life, and leadership in post-conflict reconstruction. The decision was made by a jury of experts on human settlement and urban development.
The award will be presented at a ceremony to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia on World Habitat Day, which falls on October 3rd. Mrs.Udani Mendis, Acting Executive Director and Mr.Saman Algoda, Finance Director, will receive the Award on Sarvodaya’s behalf.