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The tsunami – 26 December 2004 – experiences from one place of recovery, Stockholm, Sweden

  • Charlotte Broms (a1)

The natural disaster in South-East Asia had a great impact in Sweden affecting many individuals and families. In this paper, a series of strategies from Ersta Association for Diaconal Work (Ersta) are described to reach survivors by the tsunami of 26 December 2004, from January 2005 to August 2007.


To find out what needs the survivors had and how professionals may work and take care of their needs during similar events in the future.


An immediate empathic effort took place at Ersta; thanks to good funding and many qualified professionals. This is a retrospective, mainly descriptive study of those strategies.


The work included training of group leaders, support groups, memorials and rituals, weekly Open House meetings, individual contacts, weekend gatherings, day seminars most marketed through Erstas’ website, advertisements and word of mouth. A total of 180 trainers/group leaders countrywide were trained and 25 became engaged at Ersta. Through the website and an unknown number of phone calls, an estimated 1362 adults, teenagers and children, grieving, injured and traumatised were reached.


The Ersta project was in many ways successful, but could not be sustained, due to lack of enough collaboration with other voluntary organisations and change of leadership. Meeting other survivors and the structure of the activities were appreciated. There was much benefit from support groups. Questions arose about how to act efficiently and when to intervene, early or/and later. Particularly to consider, early signs of resilience among survivors, their own initiatives and networks such as ‘naturally emerging groups’.


Extended collaboration between the authorities is necessary as well as continuous evaluation. A new law aimed at a more divided individual and societal responsibility. A new body (2009) under the Ministry of Defense will coordinate future resources, starting at the parish.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Charlotte Broms, c/o Ersta Diakoni, Box 4619, 11691 Stockholm, Sweden. Email:
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
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