Shortly after the Tsunami of December 2004, The Reclaim Initiative formed out of a group of young academics, activists, and organizers interested in the method and implementation of humanitarian aid in Sri Lanka. As a non-profit research group, our organization collected and processed information for civil society organizations and advocacy groups. At the same time, understanding that the world’s media is the steward of vital information, we studied and reported on the mass and alternative medias and their roles in development and society.
The tsunami of 2004 created an enormous need for unbiased information in Sri Lanka, and it was this need that compelled us to form The Reclaim Initiative. We believe that a truly participatory democracy depends on the uninhibited flow of accurate, high-quality, accessible information. For this reason, we worked in two overlapping modes: Information for Advocates and Investigating Media Practices.
The tsunami’s devastation, of course, does not exist in a vacuum. When it arrived, Sri Lanka was already dealing with pre-existing poverty, human rights violations, unjust labor practices, and an ethnic conflict, among other issues. We knew that these forces would factor into reconstruction, and that we could not ignore them if we hoped to be faithful to Sri Lanka’s complexity. We also hoped, while the tsunami had the attention of the world’s citizenry, some of that attention might be diverted to preexisting issues as well.