Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, hundreds of thousands more lost everything and some of the poorest countries were left wondering how they were going to pick up the pieces and start all over again.
For Cavan Sullivan, a businessman from Barry, the event spurred him to action. Like millions of people watching the horrific events unfold on our television screens, Cavan knew he wanted to do something to help.
He approached charities to find out how he could go about it, but after finding that they were unable to help, he then contacted embassy’s and high commissions affected by the disaster.
The Sri Lanka High Commission in London put him in touch with a charity called the ‘Foundation of Goodness’ and Cavan’s project got underway.
“They told me they could build a brick house rather than wood and it was decided that they would go ahead with the project, which I would pay for, and then my wife,daughter and I would visit the house once it was complete” said Cavan. “I started contacting the charities in January 2005 and the project finally go started in the August. The house was finished January 2006 and we went out there the following month to meet the family who would be living there”.
The house is in a tiny remote village, five kilometres in land on the banks of a river, close to a town called Hikkaduwa in the south west of Sri Lanka. The village was devastated as the killer wave rushed up the river causing devastaion in it’s path.
The house is now home to the Lounaris family – Samina, who at the time was aged four, and her grandfather and grandmother.
The house was paid for by Cavan, friends and customers of his double glazing firm, Welsh Windows. He said he could not have carried out the project, and the subsiquent ones, without their help. He said St. Helen’s Infant School in Barry had also helped with fundraising.
“They had very little when the tsunami struck and they lost everything. I watched it on Boxing Day and decided I wanted to give something back to the people who were affected.” said Cavan.
But that was jus the start of his work in Sri Lanka which has seen him buying shoes for children at local schools and paying for medicine for Niroshan, a young boy who needed a kidney transplant but who needed to show he could afford the medicine he would have to take after the operation and helping schools with building works.
The HAT Foundation is now a registered charity in the UK with the registration number:1131476