Mourners Try to Recover Normal Life One Month After Tsunami

26th January marked the one month anniversary of the catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean. In the tsunami-hit countries, amid a number of memorial ceremonies held for the lost lives, survivors were trying their best to return to their normal lives.

Sri Lanka declared a national day of mourning to remember those who perished in the tsunami disaster.

Sri Lankan observed a minute's silence as a sign of respect for 31,000 deaths in the country. State and private television stations blacked out their screens at 9:36am (0336 GMT) - the time the tsunamis struck the island's coastline a full month ago. Religious ceremonies were scheduled by different faith-groups; prayers were chanted for the dead. Students lit candles and set coloured flags along a road on the shattered coastline.

In Indonesia's Aceh province, school was reopened on the day of mourning. Children attended their first official day of classes since the tsunami with a trembling heart.

In one of the schools, with an original enrolment of 600, only 260 came on Wednesday. The others are presumed dead. There were 75 teachers before, but only 25 showed up. The government estimates that 700 to 1,100 schools in the province were destroyed by the tsunami, and that about 1,750 primary school teachers are dead or missing. School buildings were filled with mud and debris while workers were carrying out a last-minute clean-up operation.

In Thailand, residents of the island of Koh Lanta launched new fishing boats built for them with relief agency donations. Before heading out to sea at high tide, the front of each boat was wrapped in a seven-coloured cloth and flowers, in keeping with regional traditions. As fishing is the basic tool of living, the launch of the fishing boats symbolised that Thai people are ready to return to their normal lives.

Nevertheless, according to the report of the British-based aid organisation Oxfam, released to mark the one month anniversary of tsunami, the real challenge remains when delivering appropriate aid to the tsunami-hit sites.

The report entitled "Learning the lessons of the Tsunami: one month on", expressed appreciation to the immense response to the disaster from governments, international aid agencies, the United Nations, local charities and the world's public.

"The aid effort has helped save countless lives and one month after the Tsunami many communities are already well on the way to physical recovery," the statement said.

However, Oxfam pointed out that in some cases the influx of money had meant that there were too many organisations working without the appropriate experience, competencies and skills. Additionally, the lack of consultation has meant that some of the aid delivered is not what is most needed.

Oxfam also condemned the government for failing to keep their promise and address the broader issues that have beset the region for years, "The great majority of the survivors of the Tsunami already lived in extremely difficult circumstances and so far governments have not address the underlying inequalities."

A fisherman Priyantha Senaviratna told the Associated Press, "We have enough food and water but we need boats and nets. We don't want to be beggars."

"I lost everything to the sea, but I want to get it back through the sea. If the government will give me a boat, I can start my life again. I just hear politicians' promises but I see no action at all," he said.

"The amount of money raised means that governments and aid agencies must address issues of the quality, not just quantity of aid, " said Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam Great Britain.

"The issues of conflict, debt and trade have not yet been adequately addressed by the international community. Unless they are, the victims of the Tsunami will never escape poverty," she continued.