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Children of Tsunami announced at Asia Media Summit 2005
10 May 2005

Filmed at Tsunami’s Ground Zero.

In 4 hardest hit Asian countries.

Involving 8 children, families and communities.

Over 11 months: Feb - Dec 2005.

Featuring dozens of stories.

This is how the Children of Tsunami regional media project was introduced to a high level gathering of Asian and global broadcasters in Kuala Lumpur on May 10.

It marked the regional launch of TVE Asia Pacific’s latest venture, which has been in the making for four months.

The occasion was Asia Media Summit 2005, taking place at the Malaysian capital from May 9 - 11. It is organised by the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, AIBD.

Nalaka addressing Asia Media Summit

Over 300 broadcast managers and CEOs from 60 countries attended the Summit, representing more than 120 organisations. The Summit was opened by Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak.

"The tsunami was the biggest story in Asia in recent years, and it’s far from over," said Nalaka Gunawardene, Director of TVE Asia Pacific introducing the project. "Months and years after the media’s spotlight has moved on to other events, the story will continue to unfold for millions of Asians affected. Ours is an attempt to stay on with these stories."

As a regionally operating media organisation, TVE Asia Pacific was extremely keen to enable this story to be documented on television. Within a month of the December 26 disaster, it had identified and commissioned locally based television journalists and film-makers in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand for this project, he said.

"We strongly believe that locally based journalists are best positioned to cover and amplify these stories to their own countries and beyond. We are proud and privileged to be working with four teams of outstanding and committed film-makers," Nalaka said.

He added: "Though made for broadcast television, Children of Tsunami goes beyond headlines and soundbytes. This is journalism with empathy, and journalism that stays with the big story and dozens of stories within it as they evolve."

Children of Tsunami is an empathetic communications initiative looking at how ordinary people rebuild their lives after Asia’s massive disaster on 26 December 2005.

From February to December 2005, TVE Asia Pacific’s film-makers will make monthly visits to two chosen families each in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand -- countries hardest hit by the tsunami. Based on location filming and field investigations, they will produce television, video and web stories for a global audience.

The main focus will be on eight children, who will guide the audience month after month. The stories will also cover their extended families and communities. Using their specific experiences, Children of Tsunami will document how recovery support is reaching affected people across Asia and what challenges they face.

The eight families are participating in this project with informed consent, and with no material benefits for themselves. This project does not seek to raise money for specific individuals or families; any offers of support will be channelled to local NGOs/charities.

Nalaka acknowledged the tremendous goodwill and support received from many partners at local, national, regional and global levels.

"This demonstrates the power of many. This is a journey we have embarked on together, and we welcome more partners to join us," he said.

He specifically invited broadcasters in Asia and other regions to join the effort by broadcasting the Monthly Video Reports featuring the children’s progress. The reports -- each five minutes and produced to a uniform format -- are now available without a license fee to all television stations.

"Come join us on this journey, and become part of the story," was Nalaka’s concluding remark.

Nalaka was speaking during a special session on the role of broadcasters during national and regional disasters. Other speakers were drawn from leading public broadcasters in tsunami affected countries -- Japan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand.