Baby 81 in Sri Lanka
Baby 81 has hit the headlines all over the world. Baby 81 was called by that name because the baby was the 81st victim to be registered at Kalmunai Hospital on the east coast of Sri Lanka on December 26th 2004 after the tsunami hit the island. 9 couples had claimed the baby. Magistrates have now called for DNA testing to determine who were the genetic patents of the baby. One couple have gone to courts toclaim the baby who was found among corpses on the east coast of the island.
An editorial from the Daily News:
The moving story of Kalmunai's "Baby 81" has hugged the headlines during the last few days. The story could have come straight out of a film: a baby survives a tsunami, a passerby finds him, several couples claim to be the baby's parents and a court orders a DNA test to verify these claims.
Alas, the story is a real-life drama. It took an even more dramatic turn when a couple tried to snatch the baby from the hospital, where he is being looked after.
A court has ordered DNA testing on the four-month old baby as well as the purported parents to prove the veracity of the couple's claim. The physical destruction caused by the tsunami is all too clear.
Most of us have seen the enormous damage with our own eyes and television gave blanket coverage to the disaster, filling our living rooms with horrific pictures of death and destruction. But the emotional damage caused by the tsunami is not so visible. Those who have been left untouched by the waves cannot really feel it.
On the other hand, those who braved the waves and survived will carry the mental scars for the rest of their lives. The loss of parents and relatives as well as the fear induced by the tsunami itself will haunt them for life.
More than 800 children have lost both parents in the tragedy. Hundreds of other children have lost either mother or father. Many parents have lost one or all of their children.
The mental agony suffered by these children and parents is simply undescribable. In fact, many parents who lost children in the disaster have allegedly tried to snatch orphaned children in order to claim them as their own.
The Baby 81 incident indicates the need for a comprehensive national policy on the tsunami orphans. The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) and the Department of Probation and Childcare Services together with the Centre for National Operations (CNO) and the Task Force for Rescue and Relief (TAFRER) are now developing such a national policy. They have requested public help to gather further information.
The CNO and TAFRER has requested all relatives caring for children including surviving parents to register with the authorities; all unrelated persons including institutions/orphanages who have been caring for orphans to register with the authorities; and the public to provide information related to tsunami children as such information is necessary to identify missing children, provide future assistance, facilitate temporary foster care and adoptions and to provide educational needs and schooling.
Their future must not be bleak. We must ensure that they overcome the fear and insecurity to face the future with confidence.