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Schools Reopen in Hard-hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka

January 13, 2005

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Photos of the Devastation
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Animation: How the Tsunami Developed
Timeline of the Disaster

In a sign that some things, at least, are returning to normal, many children went back to school in rural Aceh province of Indonesia and in Sri Lanka, two of the countries hardest hit by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami.

Teachers focused on how to deal with tragedy, asking students to share their feelings and fears in the wake of what for most of the youngsters must have been the most devastating event in their young lives. School officials hoped that bringing students back to their classrooms would give them a little happiness or at least a distraction from the horrors they have already witnessed.

Some of the students had uniforms that had been freshly cleaned. Other students had nothing but raggdy clothes and muddy feet. Most were still worried about their families, past and present. At schools in civil-war-torn Sri Lanka, many children were impatient and unruly, worried so much about the continuing devastation in their homeland that they couldn't focus on anything else.

Some schools were overflowing, containing students from other schools whose schoolbuildings were wiped out by the tsunami. Many of the visiting students sat at the desks of students killed. United Nations officials have estimated that up to half of the 104,000 people killed on the island of Sumatra were children.

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