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Wed, 29 Dec 2004
When I learned of the magnitude of the need in
Dr. Ariyaratne says the death toll is already over 30,000 here and he is expecting it to top 50,000. I am hoping that The Airline Ambassadors, for whom I am the new Medical Director, will be able to assist with transporting some of the aid which is so desperately needed here.
More soon to follow. Have to send this fast -
Best wishes, may All Beings be Happy,
29 Dec 2004
This girl lost her parents and all known relatives in the killer wave, and has been mute ever since. She is in a Hindu temple converted into a shelter for some of the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by the tsunami.
4 January 2005
Call it coincidence. I like to think I played some part in saving some of the 15,000 people stranded in the worst-hit area of the south-eastern coast. The bridges were destroyed, the roads cut, and reports were that 15,000 souls were marooned, stranded, without food or clean water or even shelter. This, a WEEK AFTER the tsunami.
At the offices of the TRO (Tamil Rehabilitation Organization), a beehive of activity, there was great concern over this stranded community, cut off from the outside world. All the local boats had been destroyed or were afraid to take to the water fearing another killer wave. The Government was doing nothing to help them. What was needed was a helicopter. Or fleet of them. With the key staff of the TRO, the main conduit of aid from Operation USA, I attended the coordinating meeting of the CNO, the Centre for National Operations. Our group were not happy that this coordinating function had been taken out of the hands of the United Nations, thus leaving the process even more open to inefficiency and inequalities. When we raised the question of the stranded people, a military man on the panel in front of the assembly said “there are no stranded people. There are no communities without services.” As we left the meeting in frustration, I got the cards of the 2 people there from USAID, and while at dinner heard that the United States Marines were about to arrive – with helicopters! So I called one them, asking when the copters were arriving, and who would be responsible for directing them to the most urgent areas of need. I got the answer, called him, and left an urgent message that helicopters with aid must be dispatched to “Ampara district, Komari – across the bay!”
The next day I saw on BBC World News that indeed, the Marines had landed in Ampara and attended to a large group of stranded people...
Then tonight at dinner at the TransAsia Hotel, I saw 2 Afro-American guys in military fatigues, and found out they were indeed from the
I feel good about this – even if it IS a coincidence. I did what I could, and maybe it helped. I have met many of the key players in the unfolding drama here and done what I could to facilitate communication between the various groups. I have been coordinating the in-shipment of aid, facilitated by Nancy Rivard’s Airline Ambassadors, creating an unprecedented convoy of commercial airliners ferrying aid from the
A WEEK AFTER the tsunami. I finally got to see my old friend Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, founder of Sarvodaya. We have been speaking on the phone daily, but going in different directions. He is all over the country, and Sarvodaya is active in all the affected areas. They have been building their infrastructure for years. He just returned from 3 days in
So what else. All the medicines shipped in by Rotary were appropriated by the Government and the military with none disbursed to the private organizations. The newspapers announced today that the military is taking over running of ALL the camps for displaced persons. This does not sit well with the TRO.
Mr. Kumar Nadesan, publisher of the leading Tamil-language newspaper, with whom we took the “mother of all road trips” to Batticaloa, is creating 2 model camps to house 1,000 people in each, one for Muslims and one for Hindus, who have different needs. He wants to “give back’ something to the readers who have supported HIM all these years by reading his paper. He is a sincere and earnest man, whom I first met 20 years ago on my first visit to
The TRO are greatly supported by those of the “diaspora” returning to help: I have met doctors and engineers and lawyers and others coming from
I guess that’s enough for one letter... Thanks for your encouraging words. Best wishes and love all around, and May All Beings be Happy!
PS: I was happy to get to spend time today with the Venerable Karma Leshe Tsomo, a nun of the Tibetan tradition who teaches at several universities in