Peraliya Village in Sri Lanka was totally destroyed by the Tsunami wave of December 26, 2004. Villagers and a group of independent volunteers have began the very slow rebuilding project. More than 2,500 people died in Peraliya, 99.8 per cent of the village was destroyed and 450 families are homeless The village lies 4km north of Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka's west coast. It is also where the Queen of the Sea engine no.59 and it's eight carriages on the Colombo - Galle express route was derailed killing some 1,500 people in the world's worst ever train disaster. Scroll down to read volunteer Alison Thompson's Peraliya diary
NEW MISSION: A 7.0 EARTHQUAKE HAS HIT HAITI. IT LOOKS BAD!
I AM HEADING THERE NOW WITH A TEAM OF DOCTORS:
STAY TUNED FOR HAITI NEWS: THE NEWS YOU WILL HEAR HERE IS RAW REAL AND UNFILTERED:
THIS MISSION WILL BE DANGEROUS:
EVEN THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH I FEAR NO EVIL, THEY ROD AND THEY STAFF THEY COMFORT ME" PSALM 23
HERE WE GO: Think your enteirng into the very worst and it will only get better.
Take the fear away: you can always come home on your return ticket.
I called my reliable volunteers from tsunami to join our team. By now we have a lot of good contacts in place. Captain Barry (a tugboat driver, water well driller,carpenter, handyman and all round good kind guy) was my first choice. His wife instantly gave him the okay to pack up and go immediatly and she has a broken leg.
TSUNAMI MISSION 2005-2008
Volunteers Just Come!! Everyone is welcome: no skills required!!!! See you here!!
FLY INTO COLOMBO, SRI LANKA... COME DOWN THE COAST TO PERALIYA VILLAGE.
ALISON'S DIARIES :
BELOW IS THE DIARY I STARTED JUST AFTER THE 2004 ASIAN TSUNAMI ALL THE WAY THROUGH TO 2007.
The read is graphic from thoughts on picking up dead bodies to desperation on the aid money not coming to anger at hungry villagers eating my cat.
What really goes on after a disaster? Its not what you think!
TSUNAMI DEC 26th 2004
When the 2004 Asian tsunami news hit I was already on the internet it read "5000 dead!" and I knew that was 2000 more than Sept 11th and I wanted to go there to help.
A week later Oscar ( my boyfriend) and I flew to Colombo, the main city of Sri Lanka. There we met by chance Donny Paterson from Australia at the baggage claim who was also there on the same whim. We then met Bruce, a private chef for Pearl Jam, he was from Telluride, Colorado and we decided to join together to form a team. Not knowing where we were going, we rented a van, filled it with food and water and started driving down the coast to see if we could help people.
We stumbled across Peraliya, a tribal village where an overturned train had killed over 2500 people (included the village people.)
There was no-one there and the people had had no help.
Arrival in Sri Lanka. Jan 4th 2005.
JANUARY 9th 2005 ( My first few emails were sent out to friends and were later added when the site was started by James, a journalist and volunteer)
I start this email by asking that God send every spare angel on heaven and earth to Sri Lanka tonight.
The situation is worse than I can ever imagine or show you. I beg of anyone to help these people now.
We are four volunteers with not much money or experience and are responsible for supporting this whole village. Just in this small area over 2500 people were killed, including the 1468 on the train.
A 30 foot wave crashed through the village and carried people over three miles inland. They say it is the worst hit area on the coast.
I cry into my keyboard as I try to explain what is happening here.
Today we fed more than 2000 people, built toilet holes for dignity, opened a first aid station out of the rented van, tiled and cleaned out the damaged school library for shelter.
Tomorrow we clean the destroyed temple to get people back to prayer.
Thousands of people are sleeping in what is left of the school and temple.
Life is misery and I have found myself once again walking through the gates of hell. Although this time, unlike 911, there are people alive and I can help them.
Today I watched as young children surrounded me desperate for clean water and i could only give them a cap full each and watch them suck it down like they were eating chocolate.
I am running this fly infested hospital with only the medical supplies I brought. I am being asked to do things way past my capabilities, but there is no-one else here to do it and if I don't they will die of infection.
Today we set broken arms, sewed one guy's head together, tended to over 100 infected legs and arms, cared for five babies with 103 temperatues, chest infections, dog bites/rabies etc etc.
I thought one 90 year man was dying but later I found out that he was just drunk!
How many times can I say I am sorry when I look into their black haunting eyes as they tell me they have lost their husband and 8 children.
Children cling to my arms in search of milk and love. I can give them the second.
Today a Christian lady named Chamilla told me that she prayed every night for God to send someone to her and now she follows me around so I won't go away. She is the only English speaking person in this village and she showed me her home amongst the rubble.
The rest of the village is Buddhist.
People walk to our first aid station from 20 km away.
This is an un-humane situation!
I ask of you to give from the soul of your heart, every cent goes towards getting water and food right now.
We dont have much money.
I am so tired and I hide my tears behind my black Gucci sunglasses.
When we help someone they say "I will be your slave forever!!" They get on their knees and kiss our feet and then I start to cry because I am not a God who should be worshipped that way.
I am just like them without the tsunami.
Today I have seen an island eaten by the sea,
children eating rocks and hungry dogs chewing on human remains.
I wear my sunglasses
to hide the tears that flow like a river
salty tears that remind me of
the ocean that swallowed you.
Is there anyone out there that can help us?
It feels like we have been here for weeks.
The sun is so hot and there is absolutely nowhere to pee.
There are hundreds of people in need and sometimes I don't move from the one spot for 8 hours.
Today I peed down my leg as i just didn't have the time to even walk away.
Daily I am told heartbreaking stories of children getting washed from their mothers arms and I sit and listen. I just can't imagine that kind of hell but I try to be strong as translators stumble through dialogue and woman cry into my hair. I try to hold them close but they have hair lice so it is a fine balance in showing them comfort and trying not to catch the lice myself. I made a makeshift red cross scarf to protect me.
Some women have lost 8 children and a husband and their parents and grandparents.
Generations of people, sometimes 30 in one family. That is the hard part.
There is nothing we can do or say that will change that.
Sometimes I walk away and cry into the broken buildings. I let the pain out and then walk back in a disguise of smiles, being strong now is imperative for the mission. I am healthy and have so much, i can always go home... they can't.
We need fresh water as all the wells are contaminated. Coca Cola has been a heaven sent and it also helps with upset tummies. I never thought Coca Cola could save someones life?
We are constantly seaching for food to feed everyone and Oscar stops the aid trucks along the Galle highway and re-directs traffic. Today he seized a backhoe to build a hole for a toliet. It is good to have an Italian around. They know how to get things!
so so tired..zzz.
The lines at the hospital continue to grow and we are all so tired. There is much infection.
The pressure has been added with the employment by USAID of hundreds of outside Sri Lankans earning money to remove the rubble, they are really really great and a much needed help but having the extra hundreds of people working in the camp is draining our water and food supplies and has added an extra 100 patients on the hospital line per day.
We get up at 530am and drop into bed late. The days roll into each other and days feel like decades.
We are desperately trying to re-open the school to get the children back into class. Oscar is trying to get the teachers and principle to come back to school... but they are also tsunami victims.
The kids surround my hospital windows daily begging for milk or just a little of my attention. When they don't get my attention they pinch my arm really hard until I turn and scream and notice them.
One little girl's name is Nardica, when the tsunami hit she ran right out of her toes...she has no skin left on her feet.
I spend 2 hours daily treating her wounds. She is deeply disturbed. ( I think she is also being sexually abused)
The four of us all have different roles. Maybe that is why fate blew this funky crew together.
Donny is busy with infrastructure, toilets and shelter and helping me with medical. He's a great medic.
Bruce is flat out organizing cleanups, repairing roofs and finding volunteers and a hundred things.
Oscar is busy raising capital and co-ordinating the volunteers and small Charity groups who wander through.
I run the hopsital and try to recruit medical people who are driving by to stay for a few days to help us.
I also try to generally keep the bigger picture all together.
Today Bruce is shooting a photo of every child in the village for a school photo ID.
We hear there are reports of children being kidnapped along the coast. The first hand reports tell me this is not gossip but a reality.
James and Paola are working around the clock to get the ID's finished to help protect the children.
It is a very long process.
Two french nurses, who have just joined us told me they saw a girl being taken at an orphange yesterday and when they confronted the couple they showed her papers in Sinhalese. The child went off screaming but the women in charge let her go.
There was nothing they could do.
They were told when the children reach a certain age they are sent off to work for free in rich peoples homes or as sex slaves.
I am trying to find someone to look into the matter.
I hear so many of these close hand stories everyday.
It pisses me off.
We need to protect these children as it is one of the poorest villages on the coast and they are a target.
I have 102 degree fever today and the outside temperature is over 106 degrees.
Sweat runs down my body all day long and there is no comfort here.
At night mosquitoes try and eat us as we lie covered in netting with huge holes in them. They bite like dinasaurs.
We have pushed on hard for the re-opening of the school. A local volunteer named Dibika worked hard to get the kids uniforms, books and shoes. She had saved up to go on an overseas holiday but instead spent all her money paying for the uniforms.
The children are temporary being schooled in tents which are very over crowded and very hot.
The teachers are tsunami victims as well and are also in shock. They dont teach but at least the kids are back into a routine, it is obvious that most of their classmates won't be coming back to school.
Hundreds of the school children died and everyone feels it.
This village was hit hard in the deaths toll of the young children here.
The conditions are quite bad for everyone but the children have big smiles and seem to be coping with everything.
The animals are having a very hard time. No-one is feeding them as there is not enough food for humans so they are starving to death and are ridden with disease.
I have been looking after some kittens but yesterday a hungry villager cooked one of them up and ate her.
It really upset me but people are in survival mode and they are very hungry.
There is no McDonalds here to go too and they are too scared to go fishing again.
I'm keeping an eye on my other animals.
Volunteers are showing up from all the nations of the world, they arrive and work very hard.
They say "we were turned down from this organization and that one 'but I just wanted to come and help" we say "you are very welcome here and we are all equal... no politics or blah blah ... go for it and do what you can!
They usually say " I am not good at anything" and then we see them later doing amazing things with the kids or around the camp.
I am very tired, the hospital is very very busy and it is a big responsibility. The much needed medicines arrive in 6 different languages.
We are seeing over a thousand patients a day now. There is no time to pee or drink some water.
There is no time for vanity or emotion.
There is also the tsunami bandaid which is an injury we can't see.
It is usually associated with someone who has lost children or someone that has just been through a really hard time. We try and be extra gentle and get them cookies or just talk to them for a while. They just want someone to listen even though we don't understand their language.
Every day is a struggle as we use our own money, there is no sign of the aid money here.
It is really hot and sweat runs down my body all over the place.
Everyone is still hungry and we don't usually eat anything ourselves in the day time.
We work with the village chief daily and we respect that this is their land and we ask them what they would like?
There is no way we can leave these people now, there is so much work to be done.
A two week journey is turning into an indefinite stay.
The team is holding strong and we help each other get through the tough days.
Death and sadness is everywhere.
Dead bodies pop up everywhere.
There are a lot of things that can make a grown man cry here.
I have seen men cry rivers.
Am not sure of the date....
Today I watched little girls in fresh white uniforms run into whats left of a broken school building.
Today I found the remains of someones mother way down on the beach amongst the rocks.
She wore a torn blue dress and I wondered which one of the little girls in the fresh white dresses mom she was?
We are teaching the kids not to be afraid of the water. On weekends we take them down to the ocean and they hold our hands really tightly. They put their toes in and shrek and run away. I wonder if they will ever trust the sea again?
March 2nd, 2005
Life is really hard and we are all very tired. Many of the wonderful volunteers have had to leave us and we are shorthanded. The website can't be updated as often as we would like.
The monsoons arrive next month and we are in a race against time to get the people out of tents and into shelter before the village becomes a muddy pool.
We are still collecting bodies ... 58 in the past 4 days and we have run out of body bags.
People have moved from the initial emotion of shock to the desperate realization that they have nothing.
Anger and jealousy are setting in and we deal with these horrible problems everyday.
Some women will rip each other apart over a mosquito net. It is scary giving out aid, the other day, I was scatched and bruised while giving out clothes.
I was then spat upon when I ran out of clothes.
We are still short of money and struggle daily with this issue, the world's donated millions have not reached anywhere on this coast.
We need you and your money. We have used all ours in running the village.
Today we opened a midwife clinic to look after the pregnant women and babies. We are very excited about it, in the first few hours 60 women signed up for the program.
At the beginning of January, I prayed to God to send all the angels to this little island that was eaten by the sea.
Now I ask you to come yourself, drive to one of the many villages and help, they will love you as their own.
Give up just two weeks of your life to help these people.
You can make a difference in someone's life no matter what you do or who you are.
Please come and help.
March 22, 2005
Today I cried as I rode my scooter all the way to the village. It's the second morning in a row that my tears have leaked out. I don't even know why?
I'm tired of waiting for the aid to come.
Where is the $300 the Ohio school children raised? Where are the billions that the world has raised? We are tired of waiting and we are running out of time.
There is so much to do before the monsoons arrive in a few weeks.
Last week the ocean rose three feet above sea level and the waters swam across the road into the tents.
Our immediate goals are to create a drainage system for the village and get the children out of the school tents before the rains arrive.
Janet, an early day volunteer returned bringing the much needed body bags and rain ponchos.
Donny our team partner has collapsed and has been rushed to Colombo hospital, he's been there 10 days now and is heading home for a rest. We will really miss him.
I feel his loss like lead.
He was a great leader, medic and friend.
He was always calling me when I was sleeping "do you think you could come and help this lady I found her lying on the road she was run over!" or "this little baby has high fever do you think you can go and open the hospital?" He cared so much for peoples lives. He put everyone first before himself. One day he was the first on the scene of a guesome car accident and the man bled to death in his arms. It really got to him. He cried all night.
Bruce is busy keeping everything together in his very Zen way. His eyes tell you that everything is going to be okay.
Oscar is flooded with village meetings, he is a great negotiator and is using his producing skills to produce a village. He has his very Sicilian ways.
He is also amazing juggling the kids everywhere with his magic tricks and fun games.
Translation is the biggest obstacle here as we just don't know what they are saying most of the time. Maybe that is good in some cases.
Sebastian is the mobile doctor doing great work along the coast.
At night I am so tired, i feel like a tube of toothpaste and my love is all squeezed out. I feel like I give so much love to the people during the day that when I get home at night I am exhausted and have nothing left to give Oscar.
Thoughts on what to send (for details how, please see the How To Help section)
Wireless radios and old used cell phones. There is no communication at Peraliya; no phone lines, radios or TV's. We rely on calling James in London to see if a Tsunami is coming.
I would love to issue a radio to each family in the village.
The people are still so terrified. Twice a week someone yells 'Tsunami' and everyone runs away in terror.
Oscar has to get on his motorbike and drive through the village yelling 'no Tsunami' and coax the children back with lollies.
I also wish I could just go and hand over a little money to each family so that they can go and buy a chair or bed instead of having to wait for every toothbrush given to them...the world's aid money is all tied up in bureaucracy somewhere.
It would be nice to give the people their dignity back.
March 29, 2005
Terrifying night. At approx.10:30pm last night we received a call from Germany, Italy and a text from James in the UK saying "huge earthquake/ tsunami warning/ head for higher ground now!"
Usually a person would run to safety but we were faced with a different problem in being responsible for the Peraliya village of over 3,000 people.
We grabbed torches and our nightvision goggles and started calling around the world to see what was happening. I looked out into the sea and wondered what was coming towards us? Volunteers and hotel owners were informed and we raced to Peraliya where a mass evacuation was under way.
People fled the terror by foot, 3-4 miles inland carrying only the children and babies.
We rode the streets on a motorcycle re-assuring the villages and met up with the chief and the village oragnisers who had things under control.
They were wrapped in ropes for climbing the coconut trees, ready to conquer the unknown darkness of the sea. One of them yelled "come and get us we are ready for you this time! Your not stealing anymore of our babies!" He continued to scream with ropes held tightly in one hand and a defiant machete in the other.
We felt blind to what was coming towards us but we were ready.
James in the UK was our only link to the outside world and he monitored the situation through cell phone texts. We rode through the streets on motorbikes and people called out our names trying to touch us for comfort and news.
I wanted to find the women and children. I needed to see if they were okay.
We found them a long way away, about a thousand coconut trees from the shore in a school built on a steep hill.
They hugged us and led me to a high up room sprawled with hundreds of babies and children. As I walked through the room women grabbed me and pushed their babies into my arms asking me to save them. One lady had lost her other 6 children to the tsunami and she was determined not to lose this one.
I re-assured them but couldn't reveal that I was also in the dark and closed my eyes to call back the angels I had asked for at the beginning of January. The angels had never left.
The hours passed as James gave the text word that no waves were coming to swallow us. A few people started heading back to their homes but most stayed in the jungle not wanting to risk their last child.
Back at Peraliya beach, Oscar and I sat with about 15 of the village organisers and watched the sea through the night vision goggles. It was a full moon and the night was calm with soft waves licking onto the shores. The dogs sat with us and that was a good sign.
'Better to be safe than sorry,' we all agreed. None of us wanted to be responsible for not raising the alarm. These people have become our brothers and sisters, our blood and we would put ourselves between the wave and them any day.
Now I just have to find them again and coax them back home.
13 people died that night running away from a fake tsunami scare.
I have become known as the Body Collector.
There are still many bodies which we find daily. I found 16 today.
I think the local authorities have grown tired of the collections so they call me anxiously to come and get the bodies.
They send me a police escort but sometimes I feel like I am looking after them.
I have become very close to the police department who are very tired and tsunami affected themselves. They are also still very scared.
We have run out of body bags so we have had to use ladies handbags and garbage bags. Sometimes we have legs and arms hanging out of the top of them. Life for me here is like a stange horror film one that I hope I will wake up from soon.
I try not to think about the bodies, sometimes I pretend I am at the butchers and am picking up meat. It helps me with the reality of what I am really holding in my hands. Whatever it takes to get through this right?
This country is all out of body bags. I call the Army, the Navy and everyone daily but they have all been used up.
The jungle recoveries are hard.
I wear my NY Soho bought Army boots and we trek through the jungle, sometimes sinking down in a few feet of mud. It is blistering hot and it stinks! It sort of smells like rotting Thai salad.
I like to wear my CHANEL number 5 perfume after body collecting. I'm still an Upper East Side girl!
I also find ocean sea shells three miles inland.
I think it is important to find everyone.
I know i would want to be found.
When I pass a little girl in the village I quielty say to myself "I found your mama today and she will rest in peace."
I know there are still thousands out there just waiting for us.
People have started bringing me body parts. Sometimes I have a head in a bag or a leg or torso hidden in the new school toilet overnight until I can get the coroner to come the next day. Its hard keeping the dogs away, they are so hungry.
Many of the bodies I find have had their hands cut off from thieves trying to get at their rings and I am also finding many of them have been chewed and eaten by the local dogs.
A dog ran by today with someones thigh bone in his mouth, he was happy and smling that he had found a bone to chew on. Here doggie!!!!come here boy! I'll trade you.
Women have started bringing me photos of their dead children asking me if I have seen them!
The bodies I find are unrecognizable and full of flys and maggots.
I am becoming intriged at looking at the decaying bodies.
April 3rd 2005
The chief and I bash heads daily. I love him like a grandfather but he is always upset with us that we help the bad people.
For a start we are so busy working to stop and ask people "if they are a thief or a murderer" and the fact that everyone was wiped out and everyone needs our help desperately!!
We are not here to judge, let God or Karma work that one out later!
I am being watched by thousands of eyes! When i visit a villagers tent to say hi.... lies race around the village that I am giving them big $$$$$ and by the time i get back to the hospital the rumor is that I have given them 10,000 dollars!!! Everyday I deal with this nonsense but not knowing the languauge it is hard to defend myself.
April 5, 2005
I just thought that I would thank some people.
The relief effort here was founded by hard working volunteers of every nation.
I want to say a big thankyou to R Klosterman from Hameln, Germany and his paramedic team. We couldn't have done it without them. He gave us a bag of medicine in the early days and promised to return with more supplies. He did just that which makes him one of my favorite heroes. He never forgot us and later arrived with medicines and paramedics. Thankyou to all you guys who came out here and thankyou for donating 50 houses and boats. Email me, I want your pictures and names for the site. I miss you, especially you Christoph!
Thankyou to Kevin Fenwick of Cronulla Rotary, Australia. The worlds aid money was tied up in beaurocracy and their money came in a very crucial time. They were our only hope in a very dark time.
Thankyou to Rotary Bendigo, Ajith and Jon Cannon who sent angels through the camp to help to buy mozzie nets and sheets. Where did James Thompson from Bendigo go?.
Thankyou to mum and dad who stayed on the internet until someone came to help us!
Thankyou to Peter, Sasha and Richard and everyone at Danish People's Aid. You guys were bright stars of Peraliya! We honor you!!
Thankyou to Dr Bruce and my cousin Chris and Jackie you made it and changed peoples lives!
Thankyou to the THW water crew from Germany who supplied water for the camp and also Michael and his gang at the Austrian Water Support and also the Austrian Samaritan water crews.
Thankyou to the Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce and Trade, J. Fernandopulle, your friendship and help is invaluable.
Thankyou to the Salvation Army Major Daryl and co. who provided tents for families who were washed out of their homes in the first rains. They turned up and helped within hours. You are all great.
Thankyou to Melinda Roy a NYC ballerina and Taylor Poarch who rallied in our time of need and raised funds to help.
Thankyou to James who keeps us in touch with tsunami related alarm systems and everything else he does!!!
Thankyou to Sir Edward A. Artis.
Thankyou to Stefan, Impact Aid, Eye-to-Eye, Keiran, Esther, Dr Asoka, Rowena, Chris Reed, Kiwi, Leo, Volunteers Sri Lanka, Chris from New Mexico, Kim and Todd and all the gang at Crossroads! Larry Buck and Dr Sandy and the rest of you at Asian Medical Missions, Janet and Sarah for bringing the much needed body bags and ponchos and of course Tracey from Alaska and super human Debeka!!!! Also Paola and Fabio! The Lighthouse staff, The Israeli trauma gang!!! Christoph, Simon, Michelle, Henning, Franz. Alain, DJ and Doug and the Hawaiian gang. Also Drs Carolyn and Shouren.
Thankyou to Jo and Rob from England, two incredible young human beings who were on their way around the world but stopped with us to slave in ditches and building projects. A big thankyou to his dad Peter and for returning to build many houses down the street!!!
Thankyou to Jeff who took over from Donny in our time of need and thankyou to Ralph who slaves hard in the hospital along with Dr Stein.
Thankyou Dr Novil you are a rock star!
Thankyou to the NY Mount Senai Medical team.
Thankyou Sebastian for your undying effort.
Thankyou to the doctors and nurses from Germany, France, Holland, Canada, Sri lanka, USA, India, Australia, England, Austria Italy and Scotland.
Thankyou to all the individuals who passed through here. I am sorry if I forgot to mention you. My mind is a little full these days. We can all be proud that every effort and cent has gone to help these people and you all have made such a difference in people's lives.
You are all my heroes.
April 11, 2005
Donny is back!! It is great to have him home. He is busy planning the infra-structure for a new village called Alluthwella. The Sri Lanka govt. has decided no-one can build new houses within 100m of the beach so many displaced people from the 100m zone have moved there. There could be legal problems as no-one knows exactly who owns the land but the people are living in tents so some basic provisions are needed such as toilets and a water supply.
Bruce is busy on dealing with the drainage problems in Peraliya, small businesses and waiting for the arrival of hundreds of coconut trees for re-planting. Oscar has adopted a local soccer team!
The New Year celebrations are here and people are too sad to celebrate. It is sort of similar to our Christmas. Everyone asks me for money for food and clothes (only around $10) but I just don't have the funds to do it for everyone. I feel helpless. The disappointment in their eyes made me cry. I feel like Santa without any toys.
Where-ever I turn, someone pushes another letter into my hand written by a translator 'Please madam, my 2 boys dead, wife dead in tsunami, no job, no money, please give me little money!' Another child thanks me on behalf of his president and pleads for a book on Egypt. The requests are small but I am also small.
Good news, four men rolled in from Texas with 'Bread 4 a hungry world.' Pastor Larry Buck (sure good to see you again!), David, Ross and Bill. They bought boats, land and houses for people and came with strength and prayer and paid our hotel bill!!!! Phew!!!!! we hadn't paid it in a long time!
On a sad note we are entering an angry stage of trauma as people are dismayed with what they see as the slowness of the rebuilding projects despite knowing how hard people are trying.
We have had two attempted suicides (a slashed wrist and one teenager threw himself in front of a moving train at Peraliya.) Three stabbings, one human biting and a strangling. We also have four other people on suicide watch.
We have visited the new area where the displaced 100 meter people are camping and while it is beautiful they have nothing. There are thousands of sea people living in the jungle with one water well, no toilets or shelter, food or anything. It felt like the first day at Peraliya village back in January.
I feel like we have to start from scratch all over again.
A big thankyou to Peter and his wife and daughter and the gang at M.J Gleeson from England who have just finished building 18 homes and a bakery in another village down the road. Outstanding!!!!! Everyone is bummed to see them go.
A big goodbye and thankyou to Joe and Rob from England who slaved at Peraliya for many months to help people have a better life. You rock!
April 30, 2005
The Hawaiians have arrived!! (doesn't that sound nice!) A great group from the New Hope Church, Hawaii came through with gentle spirits, donations and big hearts thankyou guys!
Kevin from Rotary Club, Cronulla, Australia has sent us another very kind donation. We are thankyou for your faithful and sturdy support. We have made you an official uncle of the camp.
Dr Novil, James and myself have been busy getting together a tsunmai warning system for the village. It will be up and running soon manned in 5 hour shifts. It will be the first one here in Sri lanka. We have raised $2000 for it but need more.
Its really hot here and it doesn't help having the fever I have had for the past nine days.
Everyone is physically and emotionally exhausted.
This place is starting to feel a little like the "Lord of the Flies" movie. We have to watch our backs as a lot of people have nothing to do but cause trouble. Noisy drunks tell us they have planted bombs under the hospital.
Emotions are high in the village with anger, jealousy and trauma growing. We had many more stabbings this week.
The villagers have heard about all the aid money being raised but it hasn't reached here here yet. So they are starting to accuse each other of stealing the aid money and they are starting to acuse us as well. The truth is it just isn't here. We are spending our own money or money from passerbyers.
All we can tell them is that help is on the way but I am starting to wonder if it really is.
I have been through many disappointments myself lately with people I have really helped looking me in the eye and telling me that I have never helped them, just so they can get more aid.
It crushes me but I know I have to suck it up and look at the bigger picture.
I lock the hospital and walk down the railway track and about 20 children follow me and beg me to stay they say "please don't go, we love you, you helped us, those women are bad!". They surround me with their love and I just melt and forget about all my persecutors.
At night I cry alone on my bed. I am just trying to help them.
I have given my heart, my soul and every cent I own to these people. This trip has left me confused about mankind and how kind and how cruel we can be too each other.
The five of us are thinking of leaving the end of May to go home for a few weeks for a much needed rest.
Any Volunteers please still come you are much needed!!! Go to the volunteer office in Hikkaduwa (see How To Help) and they will introduce you to the area. We will be back and forth overseeing projects.
Good luck with Commission Day Kym!!!, A Canadian bank called 'National Bank Financial' is raising money to donate a new school. We honor you. Hi Callen and thankyou Todd for introducing him to us. It was a very important move for Peraliya.
Bruce and Jeff are busying planting 2000 new coconut trees but the local drunks pull them out overnight. "THESE TREES ARE 4 U!!!!!!!!!"
They are also working on drainage contracts and I am also busy opening small businesses, Oscars soccer team is playing the Sri Lankan Army team today, Donny has a billion projects on the run. So much to do and so little time and help.
May 18, 2005
I haven't written for a while... no time to type.
We are consumed with running the village and it feels like running a small country.
It's really hard having that much power and no matter how hard we try there is always someone that is complaining.
The First Tsunami Warning System in Sri lanka is now officially working in Peraliya village run by selected villages themselves funded by the volunteers.
Hopefully we can grow it along the coast in other areas.
An opening ceremony was organized by Dr Novil along with a movie night screening 'Finding Nemo' for the children.
For most of them it was the first time they had seen moving images projected like this.
Dr Novil and the village presented us with beautiful flower necklaces, a silver baton of appreciation and beauty pageant sashes.
Donny's read 'The Good Shepherd of Peraliya', Bruce was 'The Master of Peraliya', Oscar "The Visionary of Peraliya', Geoff the 'Good Father of Peraliya' and myself 'The Nightingale of Peraliya'.
It was a blessed night but sad to say goodbye to our new family. It is so sad to leave the children. They are mine now.
BIG NEWS!!!!!!!!!! The National Finance Bank of Canada have just raised a large amount of money through their last trading day, for the new school and we all applaud an amazing effort by Kym, Jeanette, Adrian, Lori and everyone there. Thankyou!!!!!!!!
The coconut tress are planted despite the local drunk pulling them all out. The new bakery is finished, new businesses are starting up from brick machines to dried fish shops. The list goes on but there is so much work to do. The monsoons are just starting and the people in our village are out of their tents. Yes some have a new shack or house but there is nothing in them so I don't mean to make it sound so cheery. So much more help and money is needed.
We took a photo of every family in the village to hang in their homes. It is the only document they have now after the tsunami. Everything was washed away.
As we near the time to go back home for a short rest I look back over the past five months. A lot has changed from that first day when the four of us pulled up in a little medical van wondering if we could help.
A small van grew into a medical center which treated over 95,000 tsunami affected patients spanning a 5 month period. Attracting some of the finest medical people from all over the world.
We didn't know that we would start a volunteer movement that would grow along the whole coast in the thousands.
Volunteers felt safe that they could come here and make a difference even though they didn't belong to an organization. They in turn returned with friends and funds and moved on to rebuild other villages.
The village could not have grown without everyone of you who worked so so hard.
No politics or blah blah just arrive and here's a hammer... and you did!
We all worked together as equals and I thank you that your light came our way.
That first night in January, I prayed that God would send every spare angel to this part of the world and he answered my prayer but he sure did have a funny sense of humor in the crazy looking angels he sent!
Very personally I feel brokenhearted at the persecutions I have received by some of the village women here. We have slaved to help them and given nothing but love and compassion.
The other day I walked down the railway track to the chief's house and there they were standing in my way smiling. I said goodbye to them and asked them why they had always persecuted me? They replied "you have never helped us?"
I looked at them in shock as I thought about all the personal things we have done for them over the months from medical to mozzie nets, toilets, clean water, clothes, food, flasks to rebuilding their entire village and futures.
I wanted to cry out in pain to make them see, I wanted to pry open their eyes with crowbars because I couldn't listen to their lies any longer but something inside of me said stop and look at the bigger picture.
I couldn't give them the one thing they really wanted and that was their children or their husbands and if they were angry at me for that then it was okay.
I lowered my head to mankiind and left with my faithful Tsunami dog running after me.
I now know the true meaning of why a dog is supposed to be man's best friend.
I don't know why I had to learn it in such a hard cruel way.
My Tsunami dog is the only being here that has given me unconditional love and now I have to give it to the people no matter what.
Lets all be kind to each other because it really hurts being on the other end of it.
Thankyou to everyone.
There is hope for humanity and I would do it all over again.
June 14th, 2005.
Bruce, Donny, Jeff, Oscar and myself have gone home for a rest after a long long 6 months. Oscar and I will be returning to Sri lanka the first week of July.
I am back in New York City and not really fitting back into my own society. Everything seems to be about materialism and the headlines are only concerned with whom the latest movie stars are dating? The first news headline I saw was Brad Pitt and Jennifer Annistons break up"
At the same time it is this material based society who opened their hearts and gave so generously when the Tsunami hit.
It is confusing but I am sure I will work it out.
Life is much quieter at Peraliya, the Aid trucks have stopped coming and the monsoons have started. It is a tough life for everyone and the people are restless to restore their lives but are stuck. There was a huge protest march a few days ago regarding the 100 meter people who have no-where to rebuild or live. It is understandable.
Dr Stein has bought the land for the new Medical center and building starts soon.
Dr Novil is working hard on finelining the Tsunami Warning Centre. James just sent a much needed donation to help the center and is organizing a London fund raiser soon so all you Londoners be supportive of him.
We are looking for anyone who can send us slides, CD's or DVD's on anything to do with Earthquakes/ cross-sections of the earth/ volcanos/ tsunamis and a world map or other maps. We really need them as we are trying to educate the workers in the center and ourselves and there are no resourses there. You can send them to Alison: Imperial Hotel Hikkaduwa, Sri lanka.
We are also looking for a Big Brother Tsunami centre to adopt us.
Any volunteers who are not on the staff page yet email us with your name and photo.
So much to do and everyone is welcome to join in and adopt this little village, lets make it rock again!
June 24th, 2005
I am so so happy to announce the first Sri Lankan Tsunami Warning Center run by the villagers themselves is well underway. It has been in the planning since January and is manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The objective is to warn the villagers on a community level of a future Tsunami or disaster emergency.
Hopefully it will also give them peace of mind so they can sleep at night.
Dr Novil has been working around the clock to educate the workers on Earthquakes and Tsunamis while James and myself raise money to keep it active.
The center is called CTEC: 'Community Tsunami Early-warning Center.'
We are looking for CD's or DVD's on 'Earthquakes and Tsunamis' and would greatly appreciate someone sending them to us care of : Alison- Imperial Hotel, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.
We also need used cell phones with the GMS card so we can give them to neighbouring villages to include them in the warning.
Below is an email just in from one of the villager officers working in the Tsunami Early-warning Center.
Two Villages came running to CTEC. They asked, “Is there a tsunami? We checked the internet and e-mail to find out if there was a tsunami warning. There was no Tsunami warning. We called the Met Department and asked whether there was a tsunami. They also said there wasn’t. We told him not to worry. We announced through the loudspeakers and said there was no Tsunami. Next we called our team. We went through the community and told them not to worry. They were happy about our center and action. We are happy too.
I am fully rested and feel great. I am excited to get back to the village as I know they still need so much help. We have received so many postcards from them.
I really miss the children, the village chief, my new friends and my tsunami dog.
I miss the red splashed sunsets. “It’s not so bad there if you look in another direction. There is still a sunset paradise sprinkled with white sandy beaches and after a hard days work you can dive into a turquoise sea.
At night we watch lightning shows off the coast and in the day children swarm around us in love.”
I will be starting up businesses and running the Tsunami Warning Center (CTEC).
I want to make it rock so they have a great place to work and look forward to going to their jobs everyday.
Oscar will be overseeing the new school project. The funds for the new school were raised by National Financial Bank of Canada whose CEO Kym Anthony came to Sri Lanka as a volunteer with his daughter on her birthday wish to help build new houses for tsunami victims.
I believe anyone can be a volunteer. Everyone is needed.
Spare a week in your life to help re-build people lives.
June 28th. 2005
Marjolein Brasl, one of our favorite Peraliya volunteers has been in a serious motor bike accident and is in hospital.
Let me tell you about her.
She is a beautiful, intelligent ,high spirited Dutch girl that has so much love for everybody.
She worked in Peraliya in the early Tsunami days running around in the extreme heat playing games with the kids
to lift their spirits. She then came back again to dedicate the rest of the year helping with the tsunami relief effort.
She is now alone in Appollo hospital in Colombo, Sri lanka and will be there for a while.
It would be great if anyone out there (even if you don't know her) would reach out to her.
We love you girl and will come and see you soon.
Below is the email send to me about Marjoleins accident.
"Marjoline was in a motorcycle accident. She was riding from Tangalle back to Hikkaduwa at night when a truck passing another truck forced her off the road... she lost control. She has been in intensive care since but is now stable at Appollo hospital. I spoke with her last week. and she will be there for another month.
She has shattered hands and broken arms. They used bone from one of her hips for reconstruction.... one foot is pretty buggered, she has blackened eyes, but she will survive.
She will have a long rehabilitation.... she is incredibly lucky to be alive. Her spirits are high.
I think she's in room 1610 if you want to be in contact with her".
July 13th 2005
Driving along the Galle Road from Colombo to Peraliya there are so many new developments.
Children are laughing and chattering on their way home from school, new buildings are sprouting and the streets are filled with signs and color. I even saw dogs with fur on them.
Peraliya seems the same but there are many new homes finished.
Everyone was very excited to see us.
It was overwhelming to see the children.
Try imagining 30 children all kissing you at once. (very cool.)
Some of my persecutors came over and apologized for their cruelty.
We also arrived to many lies and rumors that we had fled the coast with millions of dollars and that we had bought homes in Switzerland.
It is really insulting, frustrating and sad because when we got home we were so poor we could hardly eat, not to mention our bills.
Gossiping and lies are an everyday way of life here. I will never get used to it.
We were also told by the 'Hitman of the village that we had four bounties on our heads to kill us by familes who say 'we never helped them.'
The hitman told us he couldn't go throuugh with it because we had helped thim a lot and he loved us.
This is the sort of thing we deal with daily here but we need to remain focused on the bigger picture.
I feel rested and am in New York mode now.
We have to rise above all the blah blah and concentrate on the projects ahead.
The medical center is well underway by Dr Stein and the Community Tsunami Early-warning Center is rocking, we had 2 false tsunami alerts the day I arrived which were put to rest by the center and we now have 5 villages relying on the centre for their safety.
I feel so proud of the officers who work there and of Dr Novils work.
Peraliya has a strange feeling in the air and everyone is very desperate.
It is hard to walk anywhere without people begging for help. People are still hungry and very needy.
We also have to remember that this is a tribe and the dangers between the tribes here are very real and visible.
I was overjoyed to see my Tsunami dog, we had a great re-union.
Thankyou to TELSTRA for donating 10 new cellular phones to the village this is a very very important thing for us.
Thankyou Jane Palmer, Kevin English, Helen Goulding and Keat lee. You are all stars!!!!
One of my favorite patients died last week. He had horrible bed sores and absyses from trying to escape from the tsunami in a wheel chair. His sons had held his head above the waters as they were tossed around in the treacherous sea.
Every time we put him in a hospital for special care they released him the next day .
He would never have been released in a Western world hospital.
Five hospitals later Dr Carolyn and Dr Shauren made a special deal with a local hospital to look after him and not release him while we were all away but on my return I learned of his early release and death....the thought of him suffering from infection in his dirty broken down tsunami home makes me feel sick and my heart breks again. i am a jigsaw.
The medical system here had just given up on him where I know in our country he would have made a full recovery.
We have a lot of great things in our country but why is everyone always complaining? We have more than anyone.
We had all tried our hardest.
REST IN PEACE.
Thankyou to Dr Shauren and Dr Carolyn, it was a hard fight.
This man's son had been the one who had unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide earlier on in the year by jumping in front of a fast moving train.) He is going to be fine.
July 22nd 2005
A huge group of Reuters volunteers came through to build houses with 'Habitat for Humanity' and helped paint our Tsunami warning center.
A great bunch of brainy people who are going to try and set up us with a wireless speaker system throughout the village.
On a strange note.
I had a kidnapping threat put out on my head, just for having the tsunami center painted, some people thought it wasn't fair that I painted the center and not all the other homes.
It didn't even make sense as all the new homes are painted.
I have learnt that you have to face these things head on and I marched right down to the men who were talking about the kidnapping. Of course they denied it and said it was some others who had just left.
I never heard of it again and I am still here.
I know I have gained a respect amongst the people here.
These are strange times in Sri Lanka. Ones that make us all bow our heads.
There is so much to tell you. So many good and bad things but how do I tell you of the bad things that are happening daily right before our eyes without turning you away from helping these people who are still very much in need.
I will tell you of a truth that you probably aren't reading in the newspapers.
There are many good people here but there is also so much evil.
The long term volunteers here call 'evil' "the snake" and it appears everywhere in each turn.
How do we conquer a snake (or evil?)
with goodness, i have seen it win every time.
The aid business has become a dirty business in itself and villagers are saying they have had no help and are selling their goods waiting for the next group of aid workers to come through to get more goods to sell.
It seems like the cunning are getting richer and the honest and innocent are still waiting for aid. (survival of the fittest thoeries)
Our job now is to weed through the lies to find truths which are becoming harder and harder to find.
We stay for the children who have nothing, no school or future.
We stay to build them a better world.
On the other side the large Aid organistaions aren't doing anything! They drive around in their big expensive jeeps and stay in $500 a night hotels and wear crisp white shirts.
In Sri Lanka NGO is a dirty word. The large ones have been here for over 20 years andlife here gets no better.
The Sri Lankans tell us they are happy we are not an NGO because that is a bad word here.
Ps My Tsunami dog is pregnant, I knew I shouldn't have washed her every male dog is after her!
"Why are we cursed that we should fear the night" was a comment a villager screamed at me as he was running away with his family from a tsunami rumor. I urged him to stop and trust the new "Community Tsunami Early-warning Center.( CTEC)
Last night a 7.3 Earthquake was recorded in the nearby Nicobar islands sending a frenzy throughout the coastal villages and many people came to the center for re-assurance.
The center received over 180 calls from worried villagers and took over the emergency night situation.
CTEC monitored the world and were on call with the Met department.
It is all about ground root communications with the people themsleves.
Betwen 9:30 to 2am officers were able to drive around the village and re-assure the people that the situation was being monitored and then later that there was no tsunami.
Our first lectures to the villagers had started that day and the center acted proud and responsibly.
Last March 28th over 13 people died from running away from a tsunami rumor In near-by Galle.
Last night there were a few injuries of lost toenails etc which I treated at the temple.
Once again seeing the fear in the eyes of these people was heart wrenching and babies were being handed off into my arms for safety.
Thankyou Dr Novil and thankyou officers for a job well done!!!
August 7th, 2005
Oscar and I are busy organizing a soccer match to be held in the North in Jaffna. THe game is to be between the Tamil Tiger terroists and Sinhalese from the tsunami affected areas of Galle.
Tomorrow we fly to Jaffna to meet with the Sri Lankan Army General and leaders of the Terrorist Tamil Tigers to seek their approval. It is sort of like going to meet with Al Queda.
The goal is to play a 90 minute soccer game of peace between the two sides. ( Sort of like a game between Israel and Palestine)
The event is called "Football without boundaries." For those not in the know theTamils and the Sinhalese have been in a harsh civil war for over 30 years.
There is so much need in the village but I just don't have the funds to do anything.
I am concentrating on making the tsunami center strong so at least they can be protected when we leave.
I still need funds for that also.
The other day I spent my last hotel money on 4 new speakers for the village and they complained there weren't more.
Today we received a letter from the minister of social services endorsing the tsunami center and thanking us on behalf of the govt.
Needs: used cell phones with GMS cards. Money. ITT experience and visons for a wireless system.
Today someone tried to poison my dog. She is the sweetest dog in the world. It felt like someone was trying to poison me.
I would have preferred that.
August 9th 2005
Dengues fever has boken out in many areas in Colombo, Galle and Kandy.
There are also two volunteers who have it.
It is a very deadly disease with no cure
One 17 year old girl who has been in intensive care in Columbo, died last night.
Even the visting European doctors felt helpless to save her. She only lasted 10 days out from the mosquitoes first bite.
They say 3000 people die of Dengue fever every year, it seems such a primitive way to die but they also say that 50,000 people die here every year from alchololism. That is more than the tsunami.
August 11th. 2005
Game on!!! A successful trip.
Negotiations were made with the Sri Lankan Army General and the Tamil Tigers in very secret talks so I can't talk about it.
I can tell you we were driven a long way under cover and were surrounded by a lot of machine guns.
The game is looking for sponsors and the press will cover it.
Father Roberts from Brighton college came through with his students and painted the temp. wooden school in bright colors. He is the sort of guy who just gives you a big hug and you know it is going to be okay!
The new Tsunami speakers are up but there are still complaints that there are none near certain houses.
One man pushed me and called me a "bad woman" just because there wasn't one near his home.
I gave him a gentle piece of mind! ( I am in New Yorker mode now)
It is frustrating and I try and explain that I am not a God nor a rich NGO or Govt.
I am just a person trying to help them so stop fighting everything I do.
I am on your side.
August 16th. 2005
A few days ago the Sri Lankan foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgaman was assasinated at his home by a sniper.
A state of emergency has been declared. The Tamil Tigers are being blamed but I don't have a clue and would rather not comment.
The Tamils and Sinhalese have been engaged in a bloody civil war that has raged for decades.
The soccer game against the Tamils and tsunami affected Galle district in Jaffna is still on.
A lesson I learned on 911 is that we can't give into terrorism nor should we live in fear.
We have to go on with our lives and activities or they win.
Our only agenda is to play a soccer match without boundaries for 90 minutes.
August 22nd. 2005
PROMOTING PEACE THROUGH SPORTS. FOOTBALL WITHOUT BOUNDARIES.
Imagine landing in a war torn town where a violent civil war has raged for over 30 years.
The war is an ethnic one between the Sinhalese and the Tamils Tigers (LTTE).
Imagine 2 enemies coming together for a 90 minute soccer match with no other agenda but to play soccer.
Enter a nervous stadium full of Tamil men each who have had family members killed by the opponents army.
The week before the Sri Lankan foreign minister was assassinated, a few days before a policeman was killed in a revenge attack and yesterday a grenade was thrown through a public building window.
The player line up consited of Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists and Christians and it was beautiful.
We entered the stadium passing a UN peacekeeping jeep and on through a line of welcoming Tamil players. They looked huge towering over our Galle boys. The welcome was warm and Oscar was presented with a Hindu flowered leigh by the Jaffna Soccer Federation. Thousands turned out to witness the event and the game was fought hard on both sides rewarding the Tamils a 3.0 win. ( if only wars could be won this way.)
I'd never been to a sporting event when I had wanted the other team to win more, not because I didn't think we would get out the stadium alive if we had won but simply because they needed it.
The crowd was tense but relaxed on through the game when it was realized that nothing explosive was going to happen.
It was a beautiful and historic day.
Players sang and danced the night away together.
We had tears in our eyes as we sat back and watched them laugh and hug each other. They were so happy.
The Sinhalese sang songs in their own language and the Tamils would respond singing the same song back in Tamil. (gut moving stuff!)
Two Lion beers... 200 rupees.
Two enemies sharing a beer... priceless!
Some of the Tamil fighters kept saying they were so happy as they had never been able to have a celebration like this after a game.
Everyone was feeling good...no bombs, no grenades, no deaths... just for one day.
The Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE fighters both kept their word to keep away for the day. Thankyou!!
A 2nd game was held the next morning between the Sri Lankan Army and our Galle team on the military base in front of the General and his Army.
We won 5.0.
Afterwards they gave us a welcoming reception and we partied on a secret base in the middle of nowhere amongst a huge tree with beer bottles growing out of it!
A BIG THANKYOU TO DOUG KENNEDY IN HAWAII WHO HELPED SPONSOR THE EVENT.
A peace match sponsored by the Hawaiians... doesn't that sounds cool!
They seem to always help out in our time of need!
An amazing 48 hours...the experience is just too hard to put into words.
The best 48 hours of our life.
August 30th. 2005
Oscar has been involved in a bike versus bus accident. The bus won. He is lucky to be alive as the buses here kill at least 2 people a day. He is in good spirits and is a very challenging patient!
He has open fractures in his foot and stitches in foot and legs. There are no wheel chairs around and he can't hop to the bathroom as the stitches will open and bleed so I have to carry him. He is very heavy!
Life is hard right now...really hard.
I have worked in disasters and wars but looking after Oscar is the hardest thing I have ever had to do!
I am the last one left in the village now and there is too much to do.
I feel like I am going to break and am torn between all my worlds.
I am running the tunami center, opening businesses and racing back and forth to feed and care for Oscar.
I am alone but i won't let the snake get me!
I have an ultimate higher power looking after me.
September 1st. 2005
Katrina has rocked everyone over here. We feel helpless being so far away. Our prayers are with you all.
There are a lot of Americans pulling out of here to go and help in New Orleans.
Everyone has such a big job ahead of them and an enormous clean up, things are still usually bad months away so don't think you are too late to help.
It is the 9th month here and this place is still a big mess, we still need volunteers so imagine how New Orleans will be for a long time? They need you to go and help.
From my experience in the WTC disaster and the Tsunami, I can honestly say anyone out there to just go.
They need people of all skills and no skills.( hand out water, mop a floor or play with a kid)
Don't listen to the big organizations when they say "they have plenty of help or only medical skills are required."
They need actors to entertain the traumatized children, they need plumbers and garbage collectors and organizers, directors bankers, lawyers and singers and all types of help.
When a disaster hits, despite the hype, there is no-one in charge. It is a big mess and is very hard to get co-ordination no matter which Govt. is in power or what agencies are running things.
New Orleans needs you now.! Give up 2 weeks of your life but be smart about it.
Make sure you are healthy, they don't want to have to look after you and have plenty of cash in your pockets .. that can buy your way through anything in these times and take lots of water. It all comes down to water and it becomes more important than Gold.
Take a sleeping bag, flashlights, little medical kit, power bars etc and be prepared to be self sufficient. You can go without that hairdryer for a week! You need to go in not having to rely on anyone or become a burden.
Take a friend to watch your back and tell your mum after you are on your way.
Everyone writes to us and tells us how we are an inspiration to them but we can't get to New Orleans so we really need you to fill in for us over there.
You can do it, go for it.
You will be amazed at what you can do!!
September 5th 2005
Last night the monsoon rains and winds surged through the village and cut all the power in the area.
A can of petrol exploded in one of the temporary shelter homes (which were built for the tsunami affected 100 meter people.)
The fire raged out of control through the village destroying 30 homes.
84 people lost everything again. They are devastated and have lost all hope. They ask me "why they are being punished again?" and I just look away without an answer and begin to question it myself.
It feels like we have to start all over again. A very disppointing feeling.
No lives were lost and one of the injured was taken to hospital. A snake bite was amongst one of the strange injuries of the night.
An alert CTEC saved the whole village from burning down.
The villagers ran to the Tsunami center which was beineg run by the back up generator and they took over and called the police and fire brigade and jumped on their motor bikes with loud speakers and evacuated the people.
DR Novil took over the medical situation.
I am so proud of their efforts. They are a fine team and we are looking forward to growing the center all along the coast.
A drunken villager broke my Tsunami dogs leg yesterday in a brutal beating just because it was walking by.
Man can be very cruel. I was so mad I wanted to break his legs. Its lucky for him I couldn't find him.
September 10th 2005
Fire again!! Two nights ago somebody burnt down Spaghetti and Co. (which is our favorite and only Italian restaurant where all the volunteers hang out to eat.)
Fabio and Paulo are the owners who have worked very hard at Peraliya and on the tsunami rebuilding efforts.
Nothing makes sense here any more. Why? They have been open for 13 years?
The worst part about it is it was a deliberate fire set at 4 am while they were sleeping out the back with their young son.
When they woke up and ran outside, there were about 20 people just watching it burn and no-one came to wake them up or help?
This aside, the everyday crimes and lies against the NGOs and the volunteers boggle my mind.
The other morning a volunteer had his motor bike stolen while he had rushed to help in the fire relief.
Something big is about to happen I feel it. I feel it for the whole country , elections are also drawing near.
Vivian.. thankyou!!!! I just received your parcel from the kids in Japan!!!!
Donny and Bruce we really miss you!!!
SEPTEMBER 11th 2005
Although the horrors of Sept 11th are tucked far away in my mind. I choose not to forget the memory of my 23 friends who were killed that day.
This is the first time I have been away from NY on Sept 11th and I feel withdrawal pangs.
I remember my city exploding into deadly fire and how hurt she was for so long.
I remember collecting the stolen bodies and finding a heart lying out there on the cold steel.
I remember every little detail of the sun and the wind and the rain in every hour of that first week.
I remember your SOS tapping sounds from far underground and our failed efforts to reach you.
I remember things they never reported on the news.
Katrina, Tsunami, Sept 11th and every other disaster, the tragedies grow more and more each day and when a new one comes along the others fade.
We are living in different times and the world really is changed forever.
Many things in our lives now seem frivolous and there is a larger picture here we all need to examine.
What we are doing to each other and the world?
Maybe it is time to do that first aid course and just be a little more prepared to be able to help out the world in some way.
Maybe it is teaching the inner city kids after your work or giving help to the old crippled lady next door for an hour.
Maybe it is an environmental issue you have been ignoring?
Everyone has a role, whether it be in the physical or mental form.
What a world we would have if we all got more involed.
Yesterday a gigantic dead white whale beached itself here in Hikkaduwa.
It took large cranes to lift it to burial as hundreds sat and watched.
Another sign from nature?
I don't know but I do know that the dynamite fishing here is disgraceful.
Why does man have to go about and destroy everything and each other?
Why don't we learn from our mistakes of the past?
Sept 11th and Dec 26th are dates and one day we will have a tragedy for every date in the calender, we probably already do!
There really is HOPE for the world.
As political animals we have the intelligence and power to do so much.
We can fly to the moon and unravel relativity theories and DNA codes.
The things we need to do now are a lot simpler than that.
Look around you and think of others first and think of how you can be a hero to the world.
Start today on Sept 11th.
Rest in Peace Jonathan Connors.
September 15th 2005
There is a great organisation in NY called BBC cares (which stands for Battery Park City Cares).
It is a local group of people and their children who experienced that fatal Sept 11th day and who were also displaced.
They know the heartache of tragedy and in their response to the tsunami set about raising money to give bicycles to the people of Peraliya.
We thankyou deeply, the families who received the bikes are overwhelmed.
A bike here isn't a luxury, it gets them to the food markets a long way away. It is also transport to work and school and has many functions. Five family members climb onto one bike.
I am living in the jungle now and every afternoon about 20 monkeys with their babies drop by my home to say hello. I give them bananas and we hang out for a while.
I was riding my scooter yesterday when a nearby wedding party set off firecrackers and one exploded near my head. It was the sound that bellowed through my head and sent me into shock. I was dizzy and got off my motor bike and lay down on the road in pain, I couldn't hear anything.
There were about 30 people who just watched me lying in the mud for about 15 minutes and they laughed at me, no-one walked over to help.
I am fine now just a little deaf but I think I was more upset at the fact that not one person reached out to help me.
There are people who want to censor me and just want me to write nice things but I write the truths and what I experience daily.
Aren't we tired of everyone telling us what they think we should hear or see or watch?
Sometimes the truth hurts but it is the truth.
September 19th 2005
It is Poya day ( A festival which occurs one a month on a full moon) and there is a great festival taking place called "Perahara".
It is at the Seenegama Temple and CTEC were asked to provide protection for the event.
There were fears that a false tsunami rumor would cause a stampede involving the thousands of festival visitors.
CTEC officers were on duty and set up a booth monitoring for earthquakes with computers.
The coast is alive with color and dance.
Brilliant oranges and reds dancing against a turquoise sky, babies and grandfathers celebrating life and death.
Today there is change in the air, a quiet festival year transformed into dancing elephants, acrobatics, beautiful maidens and conquering pirates! Hot sweet curries and spicy roti sizzle the air.
During the night a small boy came up to Oscar and declared "I know who you are! I have seen you and what you do. I wanted to come over to you to tell you that I am so proud of you and what you have done for my country, thankyou! Sir"
Time stood still as we cried openly.
It took an innocent child whom we had never seen before to heal the hurts and persuctions we have carried deep within our hearts.
We will stay here to build the children a future.
Before the festival there were tsunami rumors which sent four villages running inland, CTEC team sprang into action and restored order using the speaker systems and motor bikes.
There had been a 5.8 earthquake in nearby Myanmar ( Burma) that morning that had set off the scare.
The festival continues tonight with fire walking and dancing along the beach.
A BIG THANKYOU TO VIVIEN AND ALL HER FRIENDS IN MITO, JAPAN WHO ORGANIZED A THREE DAY CHARITY EVENT TO RAISE MONEY FOR THE PERALIYA SCHOOL CHILDREN.
WE HAVE YOUR BANNER HANGING IN THE CTEC TSUNAMI CENTER AS WE THOUGHT IT WAS APPROPRIATE AS THE WORD TSUNAMI ORIGINATED FROM THE JAPANESE LANGUAGE.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." MARGARET MEAD
September 25th. 2005
We had a murder today. The boys were playing cricket at the school like they do everyday and a rival tribe member from Telwatta ( the village next door) walked up and held a gun to a 21 year old boys head and blew his brains out and then fired shots into his neck and chest.
Nobody helped the boy in fear they would also be killed.
This is the way things are done here in the villages and the murderer will get away with it as everyone lives in fear from these tribal gangs. If anyone talks they will also die.
October 3rd. 2005
Today we have all rebuilt a village.
Volunteers and small Charities alongside each other from every nation.
I remember you all on your first day, so eager to help and second day red scorched sunburns and dehydration!
You all came to make a difference and you did.
I see your pictures honored on the walls of thankful villagers new houses, the people talk about you like you are their Gods and I know they wait for you to return one day.
The tsunami relief is a very big project in one of the largest disasters of all time.
The work here is ongoing and will be for many many years to come.
Right now it is very important to get livelihoods up and going again as nobody was insured and nobody can seem to get out of where they are stuck.
There is still so much training and psychological work to be done.
The people live in deep fear from another tsunami and are emotionally damaged.
In our area there are 17 men who lost complete families ( all their children and their wives.)
It would be great to get them all working in some type of business together.
The political climate is causing much friction, many insiders believe there will be a war just after the elections.
This area is a strong communist community and it also has the largest male child prostitution racket in the world. ( very young male children between the ages of 3 and 8 years old are being abused by rich Europeans who come to buy then for the week.)
Many of the early day volunteers are returning to Sri Lanka at Christmas for the one year anniverary of the Tsunami.
Bruce, Alison, Oscar, Donny, James and Sebastian will also be there.
Today Peraliya stands proud with CTEC (a Community Tsunami Early-warning center) wired system in place to protect it and also a beautiful new medical center (thank you to Dr Stein).
Today I see a crystal liquid soup of sand and blue green seas.
A healing nation
sprouting through the palms.
Lipstick sunsets splashed about in Gaughan style.
gossiping around the fire.
Today I see man raw and cruel
Fighting to get
of a paper bag.
Fighting to get out
of the crystal soup of sand and blue green seas.
My Tsunami dogs puppies are due in a few weeks.
October 23rd. 2005
My tsunami dog has had 3 puppies today. I am so proud! I still can't work out who the father is?
My tsunami dog is a little bit of a tart. Ever since I washed her all the dogs want a piece of her!
What a year, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
CTEC is exploding, we have had visits from high ranking military officials and the CTEC officers have been asked to give many disaster preparedness lectures all over the region.
Dr Novil is leading a fine team and I just don't know what I would do without him!
New officers have also been selected to join the team. Welcome!
ISRAAID have made an exceptional donation of a fully stocked Library and a computer for the learning resource section of CTEC. We are very thankful to them for everything including the fire extinguishes which will be issued to all the wooden temporary shacks in the area.
This is very important after the recent fire which burnt down 30 homes. They cook inside on open fires which is very dangerous.
The Fire Chief of Colombo has also agreed to send experts down to CTEC to do an intensive fire training course so we can teach the locals about fire prevention when we hand over the extinguishes.
Yesterday we received a letter from the chairman of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) of Sri Lanka extending
support to CTEC.
They have approved to provide 2 loudspeakers as a sign of goodwill and support.
They have also invited CTEC staff for extra training on Disaster preparedness
in a hotel in Ambalangoda, GSMB and Met Department speakers will speak
there. Dr Novil will do a presentation on Health Issues.
There has been a lot of rain but volunteers are starting to return again into the Hikkaduwa area.
There is still so much to do and many homes still need to be built.
If you are thinking of coming... just come.
Come straight to Hikkaduwa and see Robert at the Volunteer center in town.
Robert you are a champion and are doing a great job.
Robert created an emergency tree plan where everyone texts each other down the ladder of command in case of a real emergency.
Dr Stein has done a great job in the opening of the first part of the new Medical Center. Thankyou.
CTEC still needs a lot of financial support if you can help.... please write to me.
November 11th. 2005
We are back in New York to address Oscars fractured legs and to raise more money to help the village.
The tsunami disaster is long forgotten and people aren't interested in donating anymore.
The Tsunami was one of the biggest disasters in history and the recovery will take many years.
To all the volunteers who came through here or helped send goods don't forget the mission and if you can continue to help the village do so. It is still as important as the early days, we need to get livlihoods back up and running so families and generations can be supported.
I was so happy to get back home to New York.
The first thing I did was race out and get a poppyseed bagel and have a long hot bath. Wow hot water!!!
We also arrived home to an eviction notice.
It was a strange feeling to rebuild hundreds of homes and lives and then come home to lose your own.
I tried to explain to my landlord about our work and how we all need to come together to help the world but he said that "next time I should think of myself first instead of others." He is a very rich but lonely man.
He also added it was his wife who was nagging him for the money to go shopping!#&$$$
His words were lost on me and I just felt pity for the rich landlord.
All that we have can be taken from us anytime as we saw in Sri Lanka, Katrina, Bam, Pakistan and Sept 11th.
I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and it isn't because of anything I own or someone.
It is a quiet deep confidence that comes with accomplishing something good for the world.
On a really bad day I can walk down the street and say I may have no money but i just helped saved over 50,000 people in my little tsunami hospital. It beats worrying about stocks.
I know all you volunteers feel it was just so hard to fit back into your own cultures but that is a good thing!
Be happy you are having a hard time because it will mean change for the world.
One person can make a change in the world so continue on with the things you have learnt in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan Presidential elections are to be held on November 17th and we all hope for the stability of a nation which has been ripped apart by a bloody civil war for decades.
There are two main candidates: Prime minister Mahinda Rajapakse and opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Earlier on in the year Oscar and I had a quiet lunch with Mahinda when he was the Prime Minister and now he is to become the next President of the country.
We will still hold him to the promises he made us.
We have had a few more suicides lately and Tsunami bodies are still turning up as the building process continues.
After a close examination of my tsunami dogs puppies.... ah huh!!!!! yes I recognise the father it was the big mean angry junkyard dog that attacked everyone and who ate the Tsunami bodies in the early days.
The puppies look exactly like him.
He is actually a really sweet dog deep underneath, he has endued years of brutal abuse and that is why he is so mean and attacks everyone.
People throw heavy rocks at him daily and beat him with sticks and hot water.
After a little love and food he is really a sweet dog.
One good thing about the union is I know he will protect my tsunami dog as he is the most dangerous dog in the village and he loves her. ( Maybe that is part of the keep your enemies closer theory)
The one year anniversary of Tsunami is just around the corner and many of the original volunteers are heading back for 2 weeks around Christmas, if you can, come join us and help feed the economy.
Donny is trying to get back if anyone can help him with a ticket?
Carolyn and Shauren, Sebastian, Peter and his wife, Bruce, Oscar, Alison, hopefully Donny and maybe James and many more. Write to me if you are coming.
We will be heading back to Sri Lanka in December to open a new school in Ampara in the East so if anyone has any goodies or small toys for the Santa bag that would be great.
I am thinking of a way to co-ordinate this but I'll get back to you.
I miss the Sri Lankan chicken curry and string hoppers!
November 22nd. 2005
Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapakse has been elected as the new President of Sri Lanka.
The same prime minister who came to visit us in Peraliya and had lunch with us, so hopefully we will have a little meeting with him about problems on the coast.
The elections in the south were peaceful. The Tsunami affected regions voted for Mahinda where inland and city areas seemed to sway towards his opponent Ramil.
In the north and east, the Tamil Tiger movement (LTTE) boycotted the election which most people say affected the results.
Everyone is waiting for the LTTE leaders speech on Nov, 26th to see if they will go to war or work with the new Govt.
A really tough weekend for CTEC. On Saturday a 6.5 earthquake struck Sumathra, Indonesia at around
8.10 pm. At the onset everything was as usual.
Around midnight the phone started to ring. Few calls as usual but this time it was so strange. The phone kept on ringing till the next evening!
People were running away in fear around 2.00 am from Rathgama to
The CTEC staff broke into action and had to go around on motorbikes with megaphones and
send people back home. On Saturday things were growing worse as there was a
cyclone system developing in the Bay of Bengal.
It was announced in the media so people started calling us to find out about that and as usual
the news of a cyclone ended up as news of a Tsunami.
CTEC phone rang all weekend and is still ringing.
The tsunami center has become an very important part of the emergency system on the coast, it has become a solid base. An ambulance service run by a doctor from New Zealand has opened downstairs and the new medical center has opened down the road.
Calls coming in are not only from the Galle District but from Matara and even from Colombo. Last month we had calls from Jaffna on the other side of the country.
Last weekend was the largest operation CTEC has conducted up until now.
We are in a terrible need of an advanced phone system exchange!!
If anyone out there can donate this to us it would be fantastic!! It is protecting tens of thousands of lives.
CTEC is growing and we are still looking for funding to run the center for the next 5 years and to expand it throughout Sri Lanka.
I know I say this a lot but thankyou to Dr Novil, the manager and my co-creator and co-founder of the CTEC.
Among all this havoc, officers did their first Tsunami and fire preparedness
program in Balapitiya yesterday where a fire extinguishers were
provided. We have appointed a fire commitee in case of an emergency.
President Clinton will be visiting Peraliya village for the one year anniversary with the UN envoy.
The tsunami center will be having an open day and everyone is welcome to drop in.
We will be having a lot of very important visitors that day. A time to ask the long asked question "where is the tsunami aid money? Wouldn't we all like to know?
Patti Dunn a great volunteer (who has been twice to help) is going to send me some small gifts for me to take to the children at Christmas, if anyone else would like to do this as well email me on ,,,,
December 9th. 2005
Fears of the three year old truce on the war coming to an end after the rebels were blamed for two mine attacks recently where 14 soldiers died. Tensions between the two sides have increased since Preseident Mahinda was elected taking a hard line against the Tigers.
These are particulary difficult times in Sri Lanka.
There are many people suffering and still so much work to be done.
CTEC is becoming more and more valuable everyday and we still need funds to support it.
I can't wait to see the children next weekend and all the returning volunteers and of course my tsunami dogs puppies.
so much to do.
December 22nd 2005
Bruce, Donny, Oscar, Alison, Sebastian, Stefan and James are reunited again!! Its good to see you 'my chan'...my friend!!
We walked the village to a warm reception from our village families.
Hello my chan!! " "family, family" "we love you!" They call out as they run out to greet us.
It is so good to see them smiling!!!
The green is back!
Beautiful green grass and millions of purple flowers are growing everywhere. Small palms, mangos, papaya and banana trees are sprouting up over the once polluted destruction.
All the homes past the 100 meter mark have been rebuilt and painted in soft hues of lilac, yellows and green.
Below the cheery hellos there are real needs and it doesn't take them long to pull us aside to discuss their problems and beg us for money and help.
Quickly the problems are revealed and things in life aren't as pretty as the purple flowers.
I feel my hands tied to help them.
They still need so much help.
Anyone out there with anything to spare please please help us help them.
On closer inspection the 100 meter shacks are rotting and the salt air has eaten through the tin roofs. The shacks were meant to be temporary but the Govt has a law for them not to rebuild within the first 100 meters so they are stuck.
We need to restore them.
I want to find the lost promised tsunami money and help them so bad!!!
I have noticed a very strange but happy occurance, people have pets and are treating their animals kindly!!
They feel proud of this and everywhere I go villagers rush out to me to show them me their pets. There are puppies and kittens galore!! They know I love the animals but It wasn't always like this.
I know we have had many influences on this village , many good things and many bad things but this is one that makes me smile.
The people have severely beaten and mistreated their animals for so long.
I have found small children kicking a puppy to death and throwing heavy rocks at kittens.
They ate my kitten in the early days (when I wasn't looking).
Every day I would feed the animals and treat them even kinder than the humans and the children would watch very closely confused and in shock of how I could cuddle and feed the animals.
For generations they had watched a very different and cruel story.
After about 4 months they would help me feed them and lead me to ones who needed care.
Actions are powerful, if the actions make good sense they will follow.
We don't preach but show them through actions of how to care for each other.
The monsoons came very late this year and it has rained non stop. The flooding is evident everywhere.
They came and moved the train a few days ago just before the one year anniversary?
It doesn't make sense but nothing makes sense here.
The Sri Lankan president has chosen our village to give his one year anniversary speech to the world on the 26th of December. We feel honored to have him here.
I have a few questions for him.
So much to say but I have to go and work.
ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Tsunami victims shut out of their own memorial.
Today they institutionalized the one year anniversary of the tsunami attack and then the real ceremonies began.
The Govt. took over Peraliya village and no-one was invited.
The whole village was shut out along with the village chief, village monks and the volunteers who had rebuilt the village all year.
Also not invited was the Sri Lankan Trade and Commerce minister Jerard Fernandoupulle who we call the God father of Peraliya. He wasn't happy.
I know President Mahinda had no clue of his administrations blunders.
The Govt Paegant was followed by expensive NGO jeeps of whom we had never seen in this village or along the coast.
We walked to the beach, monsoons swells now still... turquoise seas lapping over white shores.
Children laughed as they giggled around the waves.
I watched them trust the sea again.
The children had come a long way and I felt for the first time that they were going to be okay.
Across the road, loud pompous speeches clogged the air followed by a beautiful, well thought out speech by President Mahinda.
With 4000 policemen in tow, business was up at Chamillas' Tsunami cafe and that made me smile. Her 2 brothers had lost their wives and 4 children in the tsunami and she was looking after around 16 people all by herself.
CTEC were rockstars, not sleeping for a week, they hoisted beautiful banners which lined the Galle Rd proudly.
One of them read : "This is a tsunami protected Community" "another read "Protected through Harmony"
I felt proud to read it.
My village was safe now and it was the last thing I could do for them.
In the late afternoon women lined the beaches with candles and personal letters they had written to their dead.
It was a quiet sunset full of reflections, followed by a night of soft candlelit prayers.
Surrounded by my new family I prayed to my God and my mind was calm.
I was calm from the snake....I had conquered him and nothing could touch me now.
Today I remember all the volunteers, I remember you all in love.
Today we walked the village and checked on the 100 meter people who are not allowed to rebuild as they live too close to the sea. They live in temporary wooden shacks and are stuck with no-where else to go.
Many of them have 8 -10 people living in them on one dirty mat on the floor in a structure the size of my NY bathroom.
Today I found a young crippled boy living in a hot shack with infected weeping sores all over his legs.
Old bloody bandages were stuck to his legs and the flies eating on him didn't help.
He is a great kid with big eyes, a big smile and the face of an angel.
Four months earlier he had been playing cricket and ran out to field a ball when he fell into a burning rice pit and his legs caught on fire. Somehow he was able to run to the river and jump in where the fish ate the rest of the flesh off his legs. He made his way to a bus and got himself to the hospital where he stayed for 3 months.He now lives at home in a disgustingly hot tsunami shack.
He was extremely undernourished.
They only had one small plate of rice to last them the week and it was filled with flies.
His father is old and fully blind and his mother is weak.
I slipped them 5 bucks for food and they dropped to the floor and started kissing my feet... they held onto my feet for a few minutes.
It makes me cry when they do that.
I wish I could help him but I have no money left to do anything but ask others.
His name is Nuwan and he is in desperate need of help.
There is still much to do here and people are in pain.
A BIG THANKYOU TO MOUSUMI BLAT OF SINGAPORE AND HER WONDERFUL FAMILY FOR SENDING THE CHILDREN TOYS. THEY WERE A MUCH NEEDED DISTRACTION.
A BIG THANKYOU TO PATTI DUNN FOR ALSO HELPING WITH TOYS.
January 8th 2006 .....The New Year is here. Firecrackers amongst the destruction.
There's no-one here now ... gone are the volunteers and NGO's who are slowly pulling out, WHERE ARE YOU GOING ? There's still so much to do.
Today I visited other tsunami refugee camps located just 2 miles inland along the coast. Just far enough in for people to forget them or not be able to see them....... Wretched conditions I wouldn't leave my dog at.
What to do?.... one year later...
Here a few angels who heard the call.
THANKYOU MOUSUMI BLAT AND HER FAMILY FOR HER KIND DONATION AND TOYS.
THANKYOU AND CONGRATULATIONS TO JENNIE AND HOLLIE SAPSFORD!!!!!!!!!!
THEY WON "THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE YEAR AWARD" FROM THE BISHOP'S STORTFORD ROTARY CLUB FOR THIER WORK IN SRI LANKA AND HAVE DONATED THE MONEY TO THE CHILDREN OF PERALIYA.
Speaking of "ROTARY"... A CLUB THAT KNOWS HOW TO CARE FOR PEOPLE.
THANKYOU ALWAYS TO KEVIN FENWICK AND THE SUPPORT OF THE CRONULLA ROTARY CLUB, AUSTRALIA.
January 16th... 2006
We have just arrived back from an eye opening tour of the Tsunami affected North East of Sri Lanka where the rebuilding progress is very slow. Partly because of location and the escalating war which has sprinkled landmines throughout the landscape. 12 Navy officers were killed while we were up there.
There is no solution to this war except a seperate state. It reminds me of the Israeli and Palestine plight.
The Sri Lankan forces have battled this civil war for over 30 years and they are still strong but tired of fighting.
I have met Generals, Colonels, Majors, Captains and soldiers and they are really good genuine people who have been away from their families for too long.
The tsunami destruction along the whole Sri Lankan coast is absolutely astonishing to me still one year later !!!!
With the passing of the one year anniversary many of the aid organisations have pulled out.
Who else will come to help finish the job?
With Tsunami forgotten the War is back in business.
Although our Peraliya village is 90 percent rebuilt, we are far far ahead of everyone.
How is is that 4 volunteers with no money or training can manage to rebuild an entire village before most of the major NGO's can even build one house? There is something wrong with the system.
I would say on a wider view that 30 percent of the rebuilding around the country has started and everyone has the same question, where is the promised tsunami money?
It's a question I get so tired of asking but I won't stop asking it.
We are building the new school up North in the Ampara district.
It looks really great and will be finished the second week of February.
Oscar tried so hard to build the school at Peraliya but to our disappointment it became bogged down in bureaucracy as the Italians had pre-signed a bi-lateral agreement with the Sri Lankan Govt. to rebuild 23 Tsunami schools, Peraliya was one of them.
We are still waiting for them to build it.
Our hands were tied so we moved up to an area in the North East called the Ampara district.
We are very happy that these Tamil children will receive a brand new school soon and that is what is important. Thankyou to free the children who are overseeing the construction.
Our trip up North was very exciting with the Presidential head of security calling us to warn of a potential leaked terrorist attack that was to take place that night near where we were travelling.
He wanted to send us a police escort but we knew that to be with the Army or police would make us a target.
We avoided the roads at night and prayed that the landmines weren't on the roads we were driving on.Even though we were not a target landmines don't see faces.
The next day it was reported that 12 navy officers had been blown up.
We ended up in a Sri Lankan Commando camp but that is top secret information.. ( I wish I could tell you about it).
...another murder today.
January 18th... 2006
My favorite part of Sri Lanka is the femininity of the women here.
The Sri Lankan woman is clothed in feminity and dignity.
Even in the poorest villagers she is wrapped in colored cloth and class.
There are no volunteers left here now. Sometimes out of the blue, new volunteers just arrive and say what can we do?
That's what I like to hear. Two English volunteers Sam Tedcastle and Abdul Rahim came through for a few weeks and were surprised at the need here one year later.
I HAVE COPIED BELOW THEIR OWN WRITTEN REPORT ON WHAT THEY HAVE EXPERIENCED HERE.
"We went to Sri Lanka with the personal remit of discovering how the country is coping a year after the tsunami and to see what help is still being received. We aimed to help people help themselves rebuild their lives. The idea was to do something positive, working with projects looking at community regeneration and assessing the present social issues.
Before we went we wondered if they would even need our help and that there would be a lot of volunteers but that was not the case. People literally have nothing and there were only a small handful of dedicated people still out there who are trying to help.
We began by talking to the villagers to identify their basic needs and to hear from them how they would like to see their community developed. After a week or so of infighting and disputes we managed to get the villagers to look at themselves as a collective rather than as individuals so that they would be in a stronger position to survive and rebuild their homes.
We agreed to give the community some money to get started on making improvements to their situation and this is a test to see how effectively they could manage to do this. If they can demonstrate this we have agreed to give them more help. The strategy seems to have worked well as they have now established a constituted group called ‘Rising from Waves’ and are setting up a credit-union project. They are going to use the money to provide low interest loans to members so they can buy equipment to get them back into work. The important thing here is that this is how the villagers themselves felt was the best way to manage the money.
Seeing the aftermath of the Tsunami a year on highlighted to us that survivors are not only trying to get a roof over their heads and food on their table but are also dealing with the psychological effects of losing their loved ones after. Most of these people were involved in finding bodies, and burying them for months after the event; something that is bound to have affected them psychologically. The problem is that despite everything that has happened poor villagers are still not getting enough support.
During our trip we wrote a weekly diary for our local newspaper and got some good coverage. On our return to the UK various people have expressed an interest in wanting to help in various ways. As a result we are planning to hold an awareness event to encourage further interest and commitment. We plan to return to Peraliya within the next few months to monitor the progress of the villagers and see what further support we can provide.
Finally, we have been encouraged by the people of Peraliya and their determination to survive. We went out there to do our bit, but also leave in the knowledge there is still much more that needs to be done. We hope that we are not the minority in recognising this fact."
Sam and Abdul.
THANKYOU SAM AND ABDUL YOU GOT OFF YOUR BUTTS AND CAME TO HELP THE PEOPLE.
YOU ARE OUR HEROES OF THE WEEK!
January 20th 2006 ONE YEAR AND ONE MONTH LATER AFTER TSUNAMI
Sri lanka is a complex and stunningly beautiful isle, perfumed with exotic flowers and cheeky monkeys sweetened on papaya and passionfruit.
In this land I have found new colors of green I've never seen on any other continent.
Ancient Buddhas hide away on endless roads spilling out to views of the end of the world.
TIme is slow and the next moment is the only moment that counts.
Open your ears to hypnotic monks chanting through an orange sunrise.
Close your eyes and feel the sea caress you into her tourquoise lair.
Spicy roti, spring hoppers and chicken curries.
School girls in white uniforms with long plaited braids.
Life is easy here depending on which side of the coin you were born.
Life is hard here for a villager struggling to survive on nature.
Nature spoke with a tsunami and all trust in her was shattered.
We have tried our very best here
but our best fails in the unmarked graves of the lives that were stolen.
I have cried for your babies and
cuddled your grandparents who smile at me through broken gummed teeth.
I have struggled with your parents
angered by a harsh reality of being left with nothing!
I forgive your persecutions whose torments nearly stole my soul.
Stand up in pride Sri Lanka!
Protect and develop your culture.
Never losing touch with who and what you are!
I have walked and talked the 7 continents of the earth and I tell you that what we have over here isn't better.
The Western world and its loose values are slowy eating up the whole world.
Hold onto your heritage and be proud.
Your grass is greener but it needs to grow with honestly.
Spit out the Arrak and gently love your wives.
Search for the truth which isn't always what you will it to be!
Weed out the corruption and swim into a nation of compassion and integrity and then
your empire will flourish like a bright jewel placed in a basin of mud.
PS If anyone wants to help that little crippled boy I wrote about earlier his address is: House #24 (Behind Telwatta Railway Station), Temporary Houses Peraliya, Telwatta, Sri Lanka. ( this address no longer works he has moved)
Coming Soon: 'THE THIRD WAVE' documentary.
Soon we will be releasing a beautiful little film about the tsunami experience.
It is to bring back the worlds attention to the area.
Disasters and wars are erupting on a massive scale and its time for people to stand up and get involved!
You don't need any skills to give out water, pick up rubble or to hold a hand.
Hopefully this film will encourage people to volunteer and give them a basic road map of how to do it.
Sri Lanka is still in a mess and more han half of the 2.9 billion dollars raised to help them more than half never got there.
The second tsunami wave killed hundreds and thousands of people, THE THIRD WAVE wave refers to the next wave that hit Sri Lanka and that was the aid response which followed with thousands of people from every nation of the world.
Nov. 2006 :The two year anniversary is near,
Sri lanka still needs so much help!!! Lets not forget them. I receive over 20 letters a week from desperate villagers needing help and I feel like Santa without any toys!! If anyone wants to help send some toys over for Christmas that would be really wonderful. Even old toys your kids don't use any more. Please send toys or anything to: Community Tsunami Early-warning Center, Galle Rd, Peraliya, Telwatta, Sri Lanka.
Nov 2006: I hate to beg but I have to swallow my pride and do it on behalf of the people. I have been supporting the tsunami center all by myself these past 8 months and its really hard to meet the payments each month.
Is there anyone out there that can help us?
Maybe hold a small fundraiser or maybe know where tsunami funds are that are sitting in bank acocunts around the world? As I have been reporting, most of the tsunami money raised never reached Sri Lanka.
We also still have the London donation account on the website but it is dry.
Yesterday we had a robbery at the Tsunami center which has left us very sad as we have built it up for 2 years now, cent by cent with hard sweat!! We need new phones, walkie talkies and speakers.
On a great note the new school at Peraliya is almost finished. It is going to be amazing and a great new stimulating place to learn. Well done Italy!!!
2ND YEAR TSUNAMI ANNIVERSARY:
It's hard to help, its really hard.
We help because people really really need it and it is a great learning experience but never help expecting people to appeciate it because you will be greatly disappointed.
Most people walked straight past us in the village with snarles on their faces and others yelled at us "you did nothing for our village" etc. It was a sad moment. Some people we have helped so much ignored us.
How soon they forget how we fed them, gave them water, healed the sick, buried their dead and rebuilt their entire village.
The children haven't changed, they were the same innocent, beautiful ones who always gave us unconditional love. The reason why we stayed was to give them a future. A lot of them were speaking English which blew my mind!!
We had an amazing beach day at an exotic jungle beach location with pure white sands and turquoise water, a perfect day. Probably one of the best days of my life.
Peraliya looks beautiful with her new houses, new gigantic school ( thankyou Italy!!) , new med center ( thanks Dr Stein) and new tsunami center. Green plants and luscious mango trees grow everywhere and yet people look thinner and hungrier than before.
Other places along the coast didn't look so good.
There is nothing inside all the new houses along the coast and the people everywhere still battle to survive.
All the NGOs have left and there are still so many people in need.
The war is growing and tourism is down, the hotels are empty.
ANGEL ALERT!!!! I met a great lady called Sarah Griffith and her friend Annemarie Dolan from Guernsey in the Channel islands who have been doing amazing work and they have been making a big difference in the area for a long time.
What they do works!
I have seen so much bureaucracy and money not reaching Sri Lanka but these two ladies really have it together.
All the money they receive actually gets straight to the people and with no fussing around. They work their guts out!
A need is asked for and then the next day 19 bikes are delivered to the people in need. In return the donor gets the photos to show where their money went. Simple but it works. Why can't it all work like that?
Thankyou Sarah and Annemarie you gus rock.
If anyone wants to donate they can be reached at www.bridge2srilanka.com
It was great to see Peter, Hillary and Bruce again, old friends, old souls who we will be connected with forever.
The 2nd year anniversary unveiled a beautiful gigantic stone buddha at Peraliya donated by the Japanese.
As usual on these auspicious occasions, Peraliya and all its people were shut out of the ceremonies.
My tsunami dog was very sick she had just lost 8 puppies in birth but after a vet trip and some injections she looks great and follows me everywhere with a big smile. One thing I have learned is that dogs have character and they don't forget.
My tsunami dog was the only one to give me unconditional love.
JAN 6th: SUICIDE BOMBER EXPLODES HERSELF ON BUS AT Peraliya, Telwatta.
Suicide bomber attacks Sri Lanka bus, 9 dead - A suspected Tamil Tiger
suicide bomber blew up a bus in Sri Lanka's south coast resort area
killing herself and eight passengers and wounding 50, police said of
second attack on a bus in as many days. The blast in the coastal town
Peraliya, around 70km south of Colombo - where around 1 000 people were
killed when their train was swept off its tracks by the 2004 tsunami -
after suspected rebels killed six civilians in a bus blast north of the
capital yesterday. Analysts fear rebel attacks, which have largely been
confined to military and political targets during a new episode in the
island's two-decade civil war, may now increasingly target civilians as
earlier stages of a conflict that has killed more than 67 000 people
1983. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who say they are fighting
independent state for minority Tamils in the north and east, denied
were behind the bus attacks. "We have no connection with those
Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan, the Tiger military spokesperson, said by
from the rebels' northern stronghold. "Civilian lives were lost, so
naturally anyone would condemn these things." The military dismisses
denials as routine and hollow, and analysts worry the attacks will
(Full report in SABC News).
The country is in a full scale war... there is much suffering. The only thing I can do now is keep the tsunami center ailve to protect them and give them a reason to sleep at night.
Rest tonight Sri Lanka. I unconditionally love you.
The Third Wave documentary premiered at The NY Tribeca film festival to 5 sold old shows and long standing ovations. it then went on to Sydney film fesival, L.A, Monaco and Cannes.
I just want to get the story out so that others may also be motivated to get out there and help.
The world is full of conflict and one little person can make a difference.
VOLUNTEERS WANTED: NO SKILLS REQUIRED!
TSUNAMI WEBSITE: THE STORY CONTINUES AT OUR NEW SITE
GO TO: Communitytsunamiwarning.com this is our current website, we run the center 24 hours a day 365 days a year. It keeps us very busy. In the month of Sept/ October we have had over 60 large earthquakes in the Sumatra area.
Follow our progress through the website. I fund the tsunami center by myself but could really do with some help!!!!!
APRIL 6TH 2008
NEWS ALERT: APRIL 6TH 2008 A Suicide bomber killed our beloved Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce and Trade, J. Fernandopulle. He was opening a New Years marathon when the bomber charged him and blew himself up just as he had said ready.... set ......
This is shocking news to us all and we honor him in the highest way.
Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce and Trade, J. Fernandopulle croseed the lines of being a politician and became a volunteer!!!
Please read on at communitytsunamiwarning.com
our new website.