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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Saving the Children
Aired January 6, 2005 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN Special Presentation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no time to think and I got to get the children out.
ANNOUNCER: The waves, indescribable carnage gives way to unbearable sorrow and grief.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The waves took them and all was happening.
ANNOUNCER: Children share their terrifying choices between life...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad told us to take the motor bike and run away.
ANNOUNCER: ...and death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God, this is my life. I'm going to die today, you know.
ANNOUNCER: Injured, traumatized, their wounds are both physical and emotional.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): "I'm alone" says Shion (ph), "except for my father."
ANNOUNCER: When nature's fury brings its worst humanity brings out its best.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are really trying to get up and to get moving and to respond as fast as they possibly can.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CNN, the tsunami disaster and SAVING THE CHILDREN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper in Beruwala, Sri Lanka.
AMANPOUR: And I'm Christiane Amanpour. Thank you for joining us. COOPER: Behind us you can see the Indian Ocean. It's calm and serene but, of course, on December 26th it was anything but. A massive undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra spawned the most devastating natural disaster in recent memory.
AMANPOUR: And that earthquake triggered a huge tsunami, a killer wave that destroyed lives all the way from Thailand to East Africa, 150,000 people in eleven countries have been killed, 50,000 of them are children.
COOPER: The tsunamis destroyed communities, decimated whole families. Children were literally ripped from the arms of their parents. Many children are now orphans. Many parents face unfathomable grief. The human heart is not big enough to hold such sorrow.
Over the next hour, we're going to look at the impact of the tsunami disaster on its most vulnerable victims. Over the next hour you will meet the children of the storm.
AMANPOUR: They say that Sri Lanka is shaped like a teardrop and certainly many, many people, especially the children, have good reason to cry. The U.N. is already calling them Asia's tsunami generation.
But amid the horror stories there are also tales of survival where fate, faith or just good fortune kept people alive. Among them, orphans. The orphanage is on Sri Lanka's hardest hit east coast at Navalady Beach.
I traveled there on a Sri Lanka Air Force plane to hear the story from a Sri Lankan born priest who is also a U.S. citizen. He says he achieved a feat that he can only describe as a miracle.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): These children really should be dead. The tsunami swamped their orphanage but they're playing and smiling thanks to the quick thinking of their caretaker, Father Dialon Sanders (ph).
With monsoon rains now adding to the misery, Father Sanders took us across the lagoon to tell us the story of how he and the kids escaped certain death at Navalady Beach. The story starts early morning Sunday, December 26 with his panic-stricken wife.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just burst into the room and I've never seen her look so terrified and I thought what could be this wrong for her to look like this? And, she said the sea is coming. Words defy description of what I saw. It was a massive 30-foot wall of water, you know, black in color, just coming at us, you know, like 1,000 freight trains charging at you.
I knew that I had to act fast. There was no time to think and I got to get the children out. I came here and I was shouting at the top of my lungs. They came. I ran. I carried. I just threw them over the fence. AMANPOUR: Their only method of escape, a small boat tied up behind the orphanage. Safe now in a friend's home, the youngest remember how terrified they were.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was in front. We saw the wave coming. I got down in the boat and still prayed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We ran to the boat. I saw a car slammed against the sea. The sea was black. I was so cared.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When the wave came and lashed the boat from all sides, we were all crying and praying to God to help us.
AMANPOUR: That's when this man of God made a desperate test of faith. With 32 people, 26 of them children in this tiny boat, he turned to the wave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stood up. I raised both my hands and I said, "I command you in the name of Jesus to stop."
AMANPOUR: And whether the hand of God or just good fortune, the engine was on the boat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never leave the outboard motor on the launch. This is the first time we have done that. It just happened to us.
AMANPOUR: And for the first time, Stefan (ph) the boat man, got it going on the first try.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just yanked the starter rope. With one pull it started. I said, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I called upon my God. I prayed and my God answered my prayer.
AMANPOUR: But the drama wasn't over. They still had to outrun the wave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no power on earth that could resist this the force that was behind this body of water, so the only safe place was right on top of it and then and there I was determined I'm going to get on top of that.
AMANPOUR: He ordered Stefan to turn around and charge the overloaded 15 horsepower motor straight at the wave. An hour and a half later they all floated into the town of Batticaloa, drenched, spent, but alive.
(on camera): This east coast took the full brunt of this tsunami. It's hard to imagine but nearly half of all the victims here in Sri Lanka have been children and for days after the tidal wave struck, parents would come and walk up and down these beaches hoping that the sea that had seized their children would at least return their bodies. (voice-over): This school is just one of the many shelters in Batticaloa. Some parents have come with their children but hundreds of children are still missing. This woman has lost one of her daughters and the waves of grief show no sign of subsiding.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was cooking dinner when she saw the water coming in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) lost two children. She also lost her sister and her brother-in-law and four children.
AMANPOUR: Father Sanders saved the children in his care but his parish is in desperate pain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now half the children are not here. Half the people are not here. You know, I will take you and I will tell you stories. My immediate neighbor he lost his wife and two of his children. Now yesterday he drank poison and he's in the hospital in a critical condition.
AMANPOUR: And the sorrow of another neighbor who tried to save his sister and mother from the swirling waters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said at one point he had to make a decision, I mean which -- I mean whether to save the mother, hold onto the mother or the sister and then he finally decided that he was going to hold onto the mother and he, you know, just let go of his sister and that, you know, is tearing him apart even now.
AMANPOUR: Father Sanders will not bend under this terrible sadness and loss. He had built this place as a refuge for the orphans of Sri Lanka's civil war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I built this brick by brick, every penny, you know, I saved I put in here, 20 years of all my labor just vanished in 20 seconds right in front of my eyes but I'm not giving up. I'm coming back for the sake of the children and I'm coming back for the sake of the villages. I'm just going to rise like the Phoenix.
AMANPOUR: Right now Sanders is only getting money from his sister and mother who live in the United States. They're their own funds and obviously he's hoping for more -- Anderson.
COOPER: Christiane, as you know, Sri Lanka is a land of extended families, generations living under one roof, communities centered around one heart, a church, a mosque, a temple. Closeness is a wonderful thing, except when the water sweep through because then an entire community, an entire family can be wiped out in the space of a few seconds.
COOPER (voice-over): Alone on the beach, hurt by the water, a sad little boy beats on his drum. His name is Mataronga (ph), a survivor of disaster but the pain in his heart is too deep to express. His brother is dead, so is his sister. He points to the ditch where her body was found. Smelly, he says. Nearby is the spot where his brother is buried. There's no tombstone, no marker, just an old wooden board to keep off the rain.
(on camera): When the tsunami hit here in the village of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), a wall of water washed over this structure. It was a Buddhist temple and this was a holiday. The place was packed. A monk sat on the altar chanting. The people in the temple had absolutely no warning the water was coming. Fifty-nine men, women and children were in this room. Only nine survived. Fifteen of the village's children were killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I tried to explain to my wife why this happened but still we just cry.
COOPER: W.K. Duratna (ph) lost his daughter Sandomali (ph). She was just eleven. Behind his house her textbooks dry in the sun. Duratna made his living from the ocean selling fish in the village. Now he won't return to work because he can't face the sea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I curse the sea. I don't want to see the sea again.
COOPER: L.D. Mani (ph) lost a daughter and a son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I can't go home anymore. In my head I see them playing around, messing around. I feel like my children are still playing out in the garden.
COOPER: For Malatha Ratnayakai's (ph) grief for her daughter is also tinged with guilt, promises made that can never be fulfilled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): She said to me, 'Mother I have achieved what you wanted me to in school," but I didn't keep my promise to her. I didn't buy her a new pair of shoes.
COOPER: A large scale disaster, very personal pain, a village of survivors, each wounded inside. A truck full of monks passes the village praying for the living as well as the dead.
On the beach some kids still play with the water but little Mataronga won't touch the waves. Alone on the beach, hurt by the water, this sad little boy throws stones at the sea.
COOPER: One little boy whose pain is great indeed.
Our special SAVING THE CHILDREN continues in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, two sisters trapped in towering waves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First I thought I'm going to lose my whole family and, yes, I'm going to lose my life.
ANNOUNCER: Her vivid story of survival and uncertainty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Across South Asia, children have been traumatized, their world completely turned upside down and that is also true of the western children, tourists who were in the region. Many of them, those who survived, are dealing with survivor's guilty because a sister, a brother, a parent may not have lived.
Our Soledad O'Brien went to Phi Phi Island in Thailand and has the story of two Dutch sisters.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the story of a tiny island, a courageous little girl and a family's determination. Come close to Phi Phi Island its majesty takes you back in time. Come closer the rock gives way to sandy beach. But when Robin De Vries came onshore he saw only jarring commercialism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought we went to a little paradise and so the first impression when we got there, oh my God.
O'BRIEN: But to his 12-year-old daughter Isabelle, the island was perfect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beautiful water, beautiful beach and the hotel is beautiful also and I always liked to swim in the pool and it was really big and beautiful. That's, yes, that's what I call paradise.
O'BRIEN: Isabel's 17-year-old sister Dominique (ph) agreed and the Dutch family checked into the Cabana Hotel.
(on camera): The next morning Robin De Vries stood on the balcony. It was a beautiful day. He watched his two daughters frolic in the calm and shallow water and he thought maybe this is paradise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was a lovely sight. They were sitting next to each other with their foot in the water and just so quiet.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Then the tsunami. The girls' mother saw it in the distance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw it coming. I thought it was an ordinary wave and I called my daughters, said "Come on. Let's go." But, no, they wanted to stay and catch the wave so, OK, why not? I think it's an ordinary wave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then we started to run but we still thought it was fun so we were laughing and then it was really fast. O'BRIEN: In an instant the girls were gone. Frantically, Ingrid called out to her husband.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was screaming at him "The girls, the girls. I don't see them anywhere. The wave took them and, oh, what's happening?"
O'BRIEN: The first wave slammed Isabel and Dominique into the beach. Isabel stayed calm but her older sister panicked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She didn't say anything. She just screamed and I told her to calm down. Yes, that's the only thing.
O'BRIEN: Then the second wave hit and the girls were yanked apart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But then myself I thought, oh my God is this my life? I'm going to die today, you know.
O'BRIEN: Isabelle's parents, standing together on the balcony, were also torn apart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember saying to my wife, "Give me your hand," what was a split second and then I went with the water right through the glass door, sliding door and right through the back door, so right through the room in a few seconds.
O'BRIEN: The wave shoved Ingrid underneath the bungalow, choking and gasping for air.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought, well, I could scream or I could really panic but it doesn't matter. I'm going to die now so stay calm and I thought they were already drowned, so I thought well at least you are with the girls now, so I was very quiet. I let myself go.
O'BRIEN: Then, as fast as it came, it was over. The water, at one point as high as the second floor, receded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was walking, limping and I was calling for the girls, "Dominique, Isabel where are you? Where are you," half crying.
O'BRIEN: Dominique was nowhere to be found. Isabelle, injured, swam to a boat off shore. Ingrid was squeezed onto a crowded rescue flight and Robin left the island only after darkness made his search impossible.
(on camera): They were taken to three different hospitals, each one unaware the others had made it. Three days later, Isabel, who thought she was her family's sole survivor was reunited with her parents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel, yes I was happy and, yes, my father was, yes, crying so I thought, oh my God, you know and I want to cry too but I didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's better to be around here instead of being around home.
O'BRIEN: With the family still recuperating, Isabelle's uncle Eric De Vries, came from the Netherlands to hunt for Dominique. He posted her photo with so many others at the makeshift disaster center in Phuket, the provincial capital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody hopes for the same. These pictures are everywhere.
O'BRIEN: The computer lists seem as endless as the posters. The Thai government tallies nearly 4,000 still missing. Eric's search took him across the island and through the hospitals and the most gruesome sifting through photos of the dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a way it's unbearable because you can't hardly recognize. They're like this, their eyes are coming out. They're almost exploding. I've seen hundreds of pictures trying to identify my niece.
O'BRIEN: On Phi Phi Island bodies have washed up onshore. Others are discovered crushed under debris. Each day a small army of cleanup workers comes from the mainland, like soldiers collecting casualties from a battlefield.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to Phi Phi Island. It's now a paradise.
O'BRIEN: The De Vries family hoped that Dominique, who is half Indonesian, had been taken in by a Thai family that she was unconscious, unable to say her name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know this is hope and this is reality. She could be in the water.
O'BRIEN: Isabel believed her sister would be found alive. Through it all, she's been surprisingly calm. Again, her courage helps her face what lies ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very proud of her that she's so brave.
O'BRIEN: Still, there's the guilt over not saving her sister, not being strong enough to conquer the waves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sometimes I thought I had to pull her hand and I had to be with her all the time but I couldn't be with her anymore.
O'BRIEN: Isabelle will soon go home and leave behind this island's tragic stories, stories now told through what's left, belongings scattered and trampled, hotels gutted and abandoned, lives and livelihoods destroyed, all in a flash in a place that to one 12- year-old girl looked like paradise.
AMANPOUR: Since Soledad filed that piece, the De Vries family has received news about Dominique. Ten days after the tsunami her badly decomposed body was identified by a team of Dutch forensic scientists using dental records.
COOPER: We've been trying to show you as many different angles on this disaster as possible as many different perspectives. Take a look for a moment at the view from space.
This is the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra Island. That's Banda Aceh before the wave hit. This is how it looked after. The entire landscape is not only battered but completely disfigured, almost unrecognizable, a testament to the power of the water.
AMANPOUR: Survivor stories here sometimes make up a terrible and tragic tapestry, stories of deliberate decisions or split second decisions about who should die so that others could live. That tale involves three young children who made a harrowing escape on a motor bike knowing that they would never see their parents again.
Alex Quade brings us their tale from Kaju in Indonesia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Everything is gone and there's only one tilted house.
ALEX QUADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten-year-old Eka (ph), 14-year-old Nana (ph) and their brother 16-year-old Marwadi (ph) see their neighborhood again for the first time. Four thousand people lived here, few survived. Bodies float in the water, bake under the rubble. They take us and an uncle along to find their house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There were a lot of houses here, four full blocks. We lived over there at the end. There were a lot of stores on my right here and here was a fish farm. The day it happened it was exactly like this, nice and sunny, but today the waves look nice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When the earthquake hit, momma was so scared that she started praying. Fifteen minutes later we heard the sound of water and it was extremely loud, like an airplane.
We looked towards the ocean and all of a sudden there was the wave. Dad told us to take the motor bike and run away. We waited for dad because he left his motor bike keys inside but he stopped and told us just to leave. This is when we last saw him.
QUADE (on camera): The three children on their small motor bike raced down this road, the tsunami they could hear directly behind them. They fell off their bike several times. They even hit a pedestrian. They couldn't stop to see how he was. They had to outrun the wave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It was really tall, taller than that tree. When we were on the bike here, I looked behind me and saw a two-story house crashing down, hit by the really tall wave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The water was coming closer as if a dam had broken. It was about 50 meters behind us so we continued.
QUADE (voice-over): Their search for their parents began amongst the masses of corpses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We both looked at the bodies. Eka was too scared. She waited on the motor bike. We looked for three days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We couldn't look anymore because bodies were starting to decompose. We opened the body bags and we couldn't even identify who they looked like.
QUADE: The children don't talk about losing their parents, rather what they remember. For Eka, their father teaching her to ride the motor bike, for Nana, their mother singing, for Marwadi, prayer time with father every day.
Since that day they've had no help. Twice they were turned away from this aid station. The only thing they've received, one dinner roll each, so they look through the rubble as they look for their house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I wish out of all this I could find at least something for identity, a school certificate or something. There's nothing left.
QUADE: They finally see it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is our house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is mom's room.
QUADE: And these were their rooms. Everything's changed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is where I used to cook. This is where I used to wash.
QUADE: She misses cooking with her mother. Nana (ph) wants to leave her mark. This was her room. But the pen dies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You can't see it clearly.
QUADE: Nana (ph), Eka (ph) and Marwadi (ph) must move on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Brother, there is nothing left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, there is nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Not even the neighbor's floor is left. Bye-bye, Eka's (ph) room.
QUADE: There's nothing more, she sings. Their uncle cries. He cannot take the children in. A family friend has, but only for now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I got an offer to live with a family in West Java, but they only offered to take me. I told them I no longer want to be separated from my brother and sister. If anything happens, we would be far apart. I refuse to leave them.
That is my school. That's the library, and these are all the classes.
QUADE: It's now squashed cars and upside-down trucks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There's nothing left. I don't know where we'll go to school.
QUADE: No school, home, money or parents. Eka (ph), Nana (ph) and Marwadi (ph) have nothing but the clothes they wore when the tsunami hit, a motorbike and each other.
COOPER: When we come back, a child's trip to the beach ends in a wall of water and an overturned train, how one little boy survived one of Sri Lanka's worst tragedies during the tsunami.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): A huge wave hit the train. I held onto the luggage rack.
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AMANPOUR: The worst disaster here on Sri Lanka's West Coast was a train wreck. Ironically, the train was called Queen of the Sea, and its passengers were headed for a day out at the beach when the killer wave struck and swept it right off its tracks.
Incredibly, though, a little 7-year-old boy died amid all the death, including the death of his mother and two sisters. He's only 7, as I said. He's too young and too stunned to grieve properly, but he has told us his story.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Bodies are still being pulled from the train wreck that was the west coast's single biggest disaster. Families and survivors are still looking, hoping against hope for a miracle.
Seven-year-old Shihan (ph) is the Perumavalanga (ph) family's little miracle. Along with his father, he shows us the site where his mother, two sisters, and cousin were killed by the monstrous sea. In his soft child's voice, he recounts the horror and how he survived.
We were going on an outing to the beach, when suddenly the train stopped, says Shihan. Then a huge wave hit us, and our carriage flipped over. I hung on to the luggage rack. That was the last time I saw my mother and my two sisters.
And he shows us how terrified and floating in water up to his chest, he clung on until the tidal wave subsided and he was rescued. It is an extraordinary triumph of survival when so many of the smallest, the youngest, the frailest have perished.
Ranjit (ph), Shihan's father, is a fisherman. He had been working and didn't join them that day. This is the first time he has seen the wreck that decimated his family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As soon as I heard the news, I rushed to the hospitals and temples. I could not find them. Then at another village hospital, I saw the bodies of my wife and daughters being unloaded from a truck full of corpses.
AMANPOUR (on camera): More than 1,200 people were killed when the tsunami flipped this train as if it was just a tin can. Ranjit had already found the bodies of his wife, his two daughters and his niece, and he had buried them. And he still didn't know whether his son had survived.
(voice-over): As Sri Lanka's armed forces and ordinary volunteers buried truckloads of bodies in mass graves, Ranjit said that he gave up hope of finding his son, fearing that he too had been buried without a trace.
But, two days later, officials called to say his son had been found, and today he shares the nice big family home he built just with Shihan. And all they have left are pictures and shared memories. His wife, Amita (ph), they had been married for 15 years. His two daughters. The oldest one wanted to be a dance teacher.
(on camera): This is you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): With the women of the family gone, a motherless little boy and a bereft husband cling to each other now.
I'm alone, says Shihan, except for my father. He turned 7 as they buried his mother and sisters. He refused to believe they were dead until his father showed him their graves, the two sisters buried in one coffin because there are too few of them for so many dead. Ranjit says he has just one reason left to live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Because of my son only I am living today, because my wife has gone. My daughter's gone. So because of son only, I am living now.
AMANPOUR: And Shihan, he has not yet shed a tear.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up next, surviving the tsunami only to face an uncertain future. Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows us the worldwide efforts to save the children.
COOPER: With so many kids here without homes, without families, witnessing things no adult can even comprehend, the overriding question has to be, what will happen to the children?
CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports now from Hambantota, Sri Lanka, with a look at what's being done to try to save the children.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty miles from this town on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, Binit Hasarema (ph) is just a boy who wants to go home.
He gets up in the morning, brushes his teeth, runs around with his friends, comes up with ways to pass the time. There are no playgrounds, only an empty field strewn with rubbish and some broken wooden chairs.
He wants to get home, but he's afraid to.
His story began the day after Christmas, when the tsunami wrapped itself around his country. He shares his new home, an open classroom with 25 people from eight different families. They somehow carry their pride and dignity crammed among as many as 1,400 other people in this commandeered school with not enough toilets and no privacy.
Binit is the face of the new normal in Sri Lanka, an already deprived community, now nearly pushed over the edge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what has he been doing in the camp?
GUPTA: He is the child we all want to help, the focus of relief organizations and the outpouring of aid. But what he really wants is his old life back. If you ask him what happened, he won't tell you, but he may draw you a picture like this one. His house, damaged, but not destroyed. Vehicles from his village, now upside down in the water. Daniel Wordsworth is a six-foot-two Australian who is carrying the goodwill of ordinary Americans to Sri Lanka.
DANIEL WORDSWORTH, CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S FUND: The event called us, really, and the needs of the children and the needs of the families that were here. We woke up on that Sunday morning to that crisis, as did the rest of the world, and basically immediately got into gear.
GUPTA: He is the international program director for the Christian Children's Fund, America's largest children's charity, and he's got $1. 5 million donated to spend right now. But surprisingly, spending that kind of money can be difficult.
(on camera): It's a dilemma as old as the first relief effort. How can foreigners help a domestic crisis? And what do individual Americans who open their wallets to the tsunami victims get for their money?
(voice-over): Wordsworth faces two kinds of devastation in Sri Lanka, the physical and the psychological. Tens of thousands killed, entire neighborhoods erased, lives changed forever.
But as a doctor, I know that it's the emotional trauma that can last long afterwards and cause the deepest scars.
Binit's scars are buried under the crayons on the paper. The figure under the bamboo tree, he says, is his dead father.
I now understood why Binit is so afraid to go back home.
WORDSWORTH: Hundreds of families not willing to go back out of fear, fear that another tsunami will come. It's very critical to actually talk with the children about what they've experienced.
GUPTA: His mother never got the chance to break it to him gently. Binit found out about the death of his father from others at the camp, who described him simply as the boy with no papa.
The Christian Children's Fund uses art therapy to reach children like Binit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this for him is a way to express what he's feeling at the moment and where his thoughts are.
GUPTA: There's lots of data to show that works well in the States. But in Sri Lanka, many children have never even seen crayons. Foreigners trying to get children to talk about some of their most sensitive issues through art therapy might not work.
DR. NANCY BARON, GLOBAL PSYCHO-SOCIAL INITIATIVES: Children in Sri Lanka don't normally have crayons. They're not normally drawing. A child in a fishing village in Sri Lanka plays in other ways. They have other ways of handling problems. Art therapy would not be appropriate to their culture and their context.
GUPTA: The need here is enormous, but complicated. Relief workers are in a hurry.
And somewhere along the way, one child seemed to get a little lost. Binit just needs help getting home. It won't be easy.
I went with Binit as he saw his home for the first time after the tsunami. Their house is still standing. They could move back in right now. But their future is no more certain than those who lost everything. Without the father, they have no means of support.
(on camera): A lot of people want to help. What can they do to help?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She says she wants to rebuild her home, send her children back to school, and for life to return to normal again.
GUPTA: What's her plan? What's she going to do next week or next month?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She says some organizations had promised to give food rations in the coming two months. So it's OK. The food will be provided by them. But after that, she doesn't have any plans. She says, if she had the money, she would start a small business, but she doesn't have any means of starting it.
GUPTA: Why not just take the money and give it to the children?
WORDSWORTH: It really isn't that easy to just give money, because you might be giving it to the wrong person, and then that person won't always be able to see beyond the crises they're in today, and they won't be able to look at the long-term process of rebuilding their community.
GUPTA (on camera): Long term, it's inevitable that we will become desensitized to this devastation. Our attention will be distracted by some other story. But the wave that has torn so much apart has also brought together an 8-year-old boy and a 38-year-old man.
(voice-over): Daniel Wordsworth says he's here for the long haul. He's been posted to Sri Lanka for the next three years, three years to try and figure out how to help children like Binit, who will be here for the rest of his life.
COOPER: There's no way you can cover a story like this and really not have it affect you in ways large and small.
AMANPOUR: It's so moving. It's so enormous, what's happened.
And when we come back, we'll have the stories behind the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Panuta's (ph) story is this island's story.
And it wasn't something that walked away from at the end of the day and came back to in the morning. It was something that you were just part of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The tsunami was, quite simply, a cataclysm, perhaps not in numbers, but in sheer geographical scope, it's been the biggest disaster of our time.
COOPER: Many of our colleagues here at CNN who have been covering this story have witnessed the impact on children firsthand. Seeing so many suffering kids has been difficult on all of us.
Here now, some of our reporters' reflections.
RAMAN: This story was just massive. It was huge. It hit you on every level, emotional, physical, mental and a big part of that were the kids.
SUHASINI HAIDAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, most people ask me if it's hard to see the bodies, especially how difficult it is to see the bodies of children, but I think what is particularly difficult for me is to see the faces of those who have lost their loved ones. These are parents for whom their children were their entire world and they had them taken away in the blink of an eye.
These are children who are terrified, who have seen horrific scenes. And the tragedy is that they will carry these with them all their lives. I think, at times like this, neutrality gets blurred, because on stories as big as this one, there's no question whose side you're on. Your job seems very hard to do. You just want to forget the story, put the camera down and go comfort these parents.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's mind-boggling every day. Especially in the first week, you'd be thinking, God, this enormous.
And, by the end of the day, you'd be thinking, this is bigger than I imagined. And the next day, it would be keep on getting bigger and bigger. I don't really like comparing disasters and tragedies and things like that, because I think every disaster is horrible in its own way. And I think, for the people caught up in them, if you're drowning, it makes no difference if you happen to be drowning in the 14th largest disaster or the 57th largest disaster. It's irrelevant to the person who is suffering in it.
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we come across bodies a group of bodies in the distance. And from where I stood, I could see that they were children, no more than babies, really.
And as I got closer, I saw that their arms were locked around each other. Somehow, these three little kids had hung together and clung together and died together. And, at those moments, you stop being a reporter, that the tools of our trade, the objectivity and the distance that we need to be able to do our job effectively in most cases, desert you.
Being a reporter just doesn't cut it anymore. I remember standing there looking at it and I couldn't help think about my own children, because I have three little boys of my own.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We talk to children who are just shattered. The only thing they can talk about is what happened to them. They can't talk about anybody else. And they just stare at you or cry and just tell you over and over again how they managed to survive. And many of them don't remember how they survived.
The other surprising thing about children, of course, they really are very resilient, that, in face of all of this devastation, they still have manage to smile. We saw children, women and men picking through the debris, trying -- really scavenging for anything that might help them survive the next couple of days until help got there.
And one of the touching things to see was that, among the things that they collected, from buckets to wood, were also stuffed animals, were toys. And those are the things that children need to be reminded that, despite these devastating times, they're still children.
RAMAN: The sights of the kids wandering and not being able to do something about it was one of the more difficult things, because this is when they needed help. This is when they needed some sort of person watching out for them.
And yet there's so many of them, and you're traveling to all these places where you're seeing that same sight. And, in the collective, it's just so difficult to digest. Yet, each time you pass one and you see their eyes and you see just how helpless they are, it's so difficult not to try and reach out.
SHUBERT: And when we visited that hospital in Banda Aceh, surrounded by so many people saying, "Why isn't the world helping us? You have to tell the world to get aid here faster."
That, by far, was the most overwhelming moment, because that's when it hits you that your job isn't just to, you know, edit a story and put it out, but you're helping people, even if you're just telling the world what's going on. And these people on the ground, these kids, they're relying on you to get the word out so they can get help. It's pretty hard not to be overwhelmed. Actually, there's -- a lot of crying went on in that hospital.
AMANPOUR: I'm Christiane Amanpour. That's our special report on the plight of the tsunami's youngest victims.
COOPER: And I'm Anderson Cooper.
Stay with CNN for continuing coverage of this disaster.
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