Tsumani, News & Relief

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Sri Lanka: Message Center for Sri Lanka RPCVs: Tsumani, News & Relief
Peace Corps issues appeal to RPCVs Date: December 30 2004 No: 353 Peace Corps issues appeal to RPCVs
Peace Corps is currently assessing the situation in Thailand, anticipates a need for volunteers and is making an appeal to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps. Also read this message and this message from RPCVs in Thailand. All PCVs serving in Thailand are safe. Latest: Sri Lanka RPCVs, click here for info.

By wereposa ( on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 9:08 pm: Edit Post

From Wendy Saunders (Wendy Poyer)
92-94 Batch 17

Some of us have been communicating via email to get news of friends, neighbors, loved ones. As we are trying to expand the loop of information, this seems like the appropriate place of communication to include as many as possible.

Have heard from Matt Turner who is in Sri Lanka. He is OK. News to follow.

We are looking to locate ways in which to combine our efforts to help those effected.

Ideas, information and news greatly welcome.

By wereposa ( on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 9:57 pm: Edit Post

Please excuse typo --- TSUNAMI should be the spelling! whoops!

By Mark Parkison (ll62-28-215-251-62.ll62.iam.net.ma - on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 7:38 am: Edit Post

We are, after all, Sri Lankan emigres of a sort.

A suggestion is made at the end of the Baltimore Sun article below for where one might want to send financial or material support for Lankan victims of the tsunamis.

Mark Parkison, APCD, 1989-1990

Sri Lankan emigres pool skills, money
Bel Air internist joins 20 doctors from across U.S. in 3-week relief mission
By David Kohn
Sun Staff
Originally published December 29, 2004

Dr. Sinnarajah Raguraj was visiting friends in New York on Sunday, enjoying a leisurely breakfast, when he began to get frantic cell phone calls from all over the country.

What was happening in Sri Lanka?

Within hours, the Bel Air internist was back in Baltimore, working on a relief mission to his native country. Since then, he has been on the phone constantly, talking to friends and colleagues across the United States and the world, trying to help victims of the devastating tsunamis that killed more than 60,000 in South Asia.

He won't slow down anytime soon. Next week, he and 20 other doctors from around the United States will leave for Sri Lanka for three weeks. His aid group has donated $50,000 to a grass-roots health organization in Sri Lanka.

The doctors hope to take along a cache of medical supplies, including blood pressure machines, antibiotics, syringes, intravenous fluids, anti-diarrheal medicine and vaccines to prevent cholera and other communicable diseases.

Like thousands of South Asian immigrants around the world, he has been doing everything he can to get aid to disaster victims.

"We have to help our own people," said Raguraj, who left Sri Lanka 19 years ago.

Over the past few days, the local Sri Lankan community has done what it can. There are about 100 Sri Lankan families in Maryland, most of whom live in Ellicott City, Columbia and Silver Spring. Tomorrow night, the group will hold a fund-raiser in Bethesda at the home of a local Sri Lankan family.

The country was among the hardest hit by the disaster, which occurred when an underwater earthquake off Sumatra triggered enormous waves that surged ashore from Malaysia to India. Sri Lanka suffered 20,000 deaths, with more than 7,000 others missing and likely dead.

Raguraj, 40, has been getting help from his wife, Arani Raguraj, a genetics researcher at the Johns Hopkins University. During the day, while her husband sees patients, she's on the phone, coordinating contributions from Sri Lankans around the country who want to donate food, money, medicine and clothes.

"I'm just trying to do whatever I can," she says. Arani Raguraj, 36, will accompany her husband to Sri Lanka next week. She's not a doctor and won't be able to provide medical care -- but she is sure there will be plenty to do.

If nothing else, she said, she can simply sit with those who want company. "The survivors will need someone to talk to," she said.

The couple also have a 13-month-old daughter, Iniyaal, who will go along. While the parents work, the infant will stay with her maternal grandparents in the capital city, Colombo.

The Ragarajs grew up on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka, the area that suffered the worst devastation. Dr. Ragaraj is from a village called Aliyavalai, where about 1,000 people were killed. No one in either of their immediate families perished.

His wife's parents were about a mile inland from the wave. "They were extremely lucky, I must say," she said. But both know of friends and distant relatives who are dead or missing.

The Ragurajs have been trying to help their homeland for several years. In 2003, Dr. Raguraj helped start the International Medical Health Organization (IMHO), to help rebuild the Sri Lankan health care system, which was devastated by two decades of ethnic civil war between Tamils and Sinhalese. A tenuous truce has been in effect for the past two years.

The IMHO, which consists largely of Tamils, has focused its efforts in the northeastern part of the country, which is mostly Tamil. "That's the area that has been neglected most," says Raguraj.

He is now president of the group, which comprises 500 doctors nationwide, mostly Sri Lankan. The group has so far raised money to build primary care clinics, and last year Raguraj and several doctors visited Sri Lanka to offer medical care and to supervise construction of three centers. One of the clinics, in Aliyavalai, was washed away by the waves.

Over the past year, the IMHO has raised $50,000 to build several more clinics. The trip next week had been planned for months as part of that effort. But with Sunday's disaster, the plans changed.

Raguraj wired the money to a charity group in Sri Lanka yesterday so it could be put to immediate use. And the 18 doctors, all from Sri Lanka or India, will now focus on disaster relief.

"Now," says Raguraj, "our first priority is not building the buildings."

The group includes a range of specialists, including two psychiatrists. Their expertise will be essential, Raguraj suspects. "Most of the survivors," he said, "will need counseling."

Those who aren't going are also trying to help. Since Sunday morning, Cumberland nephrologist Dr. Arul Ranjithan has collected $20,000 to help victims in Sri Lanka. Ranjithan, who has lived in the United States for 30 years, says he will likely go to Sri Lanka later next month to offer medical help.

"The need is tremendous," he said. "Our heart is there."

Those who want to contribute to the International Medical Health Organization can write to: IMHO, P.O. Box 901, Bel Air 21014, or call 410-638-6729.

By wereposa ( on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 8:52 am: Edit Post

I have found a service that will aid in locating missing relatives, friends, neighbors.... You go onto kapruka.com and fill out a form to email in. I have done this myself and am waiting to see what happens next. Will post results.

By judybrenn (cpe-69-76-100-147.wi.rr.com - on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 3:08 pm: Edit Post

I have a number of friends who would like to donate to survivors of the tsunami. Does anyone know of a local organization of there? Thanks Judy Brenner RPCV Senegal JKBrenner03@hotmail.com

By wereposa ( on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 3:25 pm: Edit Post

Judy - So far the internal dialogue for donation is for UNICEF which seems to have the most organized effort in Lanka. The site is actually http://www.unicefusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=duLRI8O0H&b=25933 . We can donate to a program at Support Tsunami Relief Efforts. We are contemplating a group donation, most likely as well as individual donations. Our look into local government relief options is showing chances of being misdirected.

By wereposa ( on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 6:13 pm: Edit Post

Another donation recommendation, brought to my attention from James Parrott... here is his email regarding same:

For those of you interested in donating to the relief effort in Sri
Lanka, I
would recommend doing so through the Sri Lanka Association of Greater
Washington, Inc. (SLAGW). They have set up a fund that will go directly
the most trustworthy and efficient NGO in the country, Sarvodaya. I
with this NGO while in Sri Lanka and can say with some confidence that
they'll be one of the most important forces in the Sri Lankan recovery
the coming months, and are likely to be the most effective place to put
one's donation. I have talked with people at the Sri Lankan Embassy in
and with others who used to work in the US Embassy in Sri Lanka and
they all
share this view.

Donations are tax deductible and can be made either on line or through
me know if you have any problems.

By wereposa ( on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 9:56 pm: Edit Post

Two other recommended avenues have come forward regarding relief donations: CARE and OXFAM..... received an email with the following about these agencies.

.....Besides a recommendation of UNICEF as a vehicle for making contributions, I wanted to give a plug to CARE (www.careusa.org) and OXFAM (www.oxfamamerica.org). Both have a long presence in Sri Lanka, and neither are novices in disaster relief. Both take on-line donations. For whatever it's worth, I have had experience coordinating with CARE in the field and was impressed by the quality of their work. I have not had any direct experience with OXFAM but they have a very good rep among the development professionals I've talked to. Both CARE and OXFAM keep overhead expenses to a minimum so that maximum funds assist the intended recipients.

By Allison Hertzler (rrcs-24-172-72-176.midsouth.biz.rr.com - on Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 5:04 pm: Edit Post

I am a RPCV from Sri Lanka and was looking for a good organization I can work with in helping with the rebuilding of Sri Lanka in the next 3 - 6 months. Any suggestions on organizations that may be a good place to start the process of volunteering.

By wereposa ( on Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 8:22 pm: Edit Post

taking liberty of posting this email from RPCV Matthew Turner..... hope it's ok Matt

Hello everyone!
I just got back from Galle, I went down to help out with tourists who were still in the area. I can't even begin to describe the devistation that I saw. Death was everywhere and the entire downtown of Galle is gone. Unawatuna is for the most part gone! GONE! It is surreal. There were still a lot of dead bodies, and the major effort now centers on cleaning up the dead and providing safe drinking water. I know Rob recommended Oxfam, and I totally agree! They have been airlifting water purification kits and sanitary toilets and the first deliveries were happening while I was in Galle. I am back in Colombo now, basically regrouping and seeing where I can help next. The scene down south is also getting a little tense. There is a lot of looting by people going to their neighbors and taking what they want. Also some bands of young adults are resenting what they think was preferential treatment to the foriegners and a few people have been hurt. That is understandable, there is a lot of greif, anger and dismay. The looting is sickining and very disturbing.
Anyhow, I will be here until Jan. 9th and will try to write some more before I leave.
Take care everyone!

By wereposa ( on Sunday, January 02, 2005 - 12:33 am: Edit Post

December 30, 2004; Page A8

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- When the sea rolled back on Sunday, leaving a beach -- peppered with flapping fish -- that stretched to the horizon, people ran toward it or just stood rooted in amazement, displaying the islanders' habit of checking out "what's happening."

Then the tidal wave engulfed them.

While international network TV stations continue to bombard the world with gruesome images and ever increasing numbers of casualties, the people of Sri Lanka are mourning their dead and disappeared while continuing to look desperately for survivors. Most bodies cannot be identified. The Justice Ministry has made arrangements to photograph, fingerprint and allocate a file number before the interment of each victim. People of all walks of life have died and as President Chandrika Kumaratunge said in her address to the nation, nature is not selective in the destruction it wreaks:
Fisherfolk at sea, travelers in trains, families on holiday driving on the Galle road in packed buses, foreign and local tourists in beach hotels,
kids playing cricket on the sand. Most of those who lost their homes and livelihoods appear to be, however, from the poorer sections of society.

All New Year celebrations are cancelled by a people who were until now carefree and accustomed to dance to the local "baila" music and drink until merry, even in times of war and strife. A sense of gloom pervades, as everything stands still and white flags fleck the streets of the island. In Hambantota, the stench of rotting bodies makes the return to work unbearable.
* * *
Many of those who perished along two-thirds of the coastline of the island hit by the tsunamis were associated with the sea. These communities that initially hailed from the Southern coast of India had trickled into Sri Lanka over a period of time extending from the 13th to the 18th century; they settled along the coasts of the island, where they engaged in fishing and trade with the rest of the people. While many melted into Sinhalese society by adopting its language and Buddhism, others,like those in Negombo, a predominantly Roman Catholic port on the western coast,continued to speak both Sinhala and Tamil. The coasts were contact zones where cultures, memories and histories merged and borrowed from each other.

Since colonial times, the island's western coastal region has been densely populated and urbanized, primarily at the mouths of rivers and lagoons. The area enjoyed a great diversity of resources: products of the sea upon which a thriving maritime commerce is based, coconut trees, carpentry, and in the recent decades tourism. At the southernmost point of the island, Galle and Matara, two cities developed under the Dutch, were severely hit by the waves. Roads, bus stations, and commercial
organizations were completely destroyed.

The areas ravaged by the tidal waves, stretching from Galle to Hambantota, were the cradle of Sinhalese leftist rebellions spearheaded by
unemployed youth. In attempts to defuse social tensions, successive governments moved garment and other industries to these areas, modernized the port at Galle, established a university at Matara, and proposed the creation of another port at Hambantota. Recently, work on a highway running through the interior and linking Colombo to Matara was started with much fanfare. Today this destroyed area -- the Ruhuna -- must feel even more alienated from the privileged western province and the Colombo élites. Reconstruction is not only an economic urgency but also a political one.

Information is coming in more slowly on the extent of the damage in the Northern and Eastern coastal areas. People from the area mention considerable damage to the military bases in the Northern province. Although population is unevenly distributed in the coastal zones stretching from Jaffna to Pottuvil on the eastern shore and up to Negombo on the western shore, with the exception of Batticaloa, an important center for rice export, the casualties appear to be very high. A colleague from the Southeastern University in Oluvil speaks of 10,000 deaths in the Ampara
district alone. The port city of Trincomalee, economically dormant since the beginning of the civil war, was just waking up from slumber with the recent opening of new tourist resorts on its beautiful beaches. Its most popular resort, Nilaveli Beach hotel, was one of the worst hit.

While the dead are buried and mourned, the survivors need to be cared for as the threat of epidemics is looming. The disaster management unit
set up by the government is operating through district coordinating committees to send relief to the affected areas. The figures of human and material destruction are staggering. Nearly two million people have lost their homes and livelihoods -- and bear in mind that social security and welfare benefits, as understood in the Western world, are virtually nonexistent. The
immediate needs are for medicines, drinking water, shelter, clothes and dry rations. Psychological help and assistance in finding new livelihoods
for those who have lost everything must follow.

In the small coastal town of Beruwela, the fishing industry has lost over 100 boats and hundreds of thousands of rupees worth of fishing gear. Land will have to be allocated and new houses built for the fishermen along the coasts. About 10,000 telecommunication lines have been destroyed in
the Hambantota area. In the town itself, the authorities were able to establish 10 satellite phones and are also using amateur radios to communicate with people in areas where telephones are not functioning. Around 800 kilometers of rail track have been destroyed. The Road Development Authority, assisted by army engineers, is coordinating the clearing of the roads, which is
a prerequisite for relief to reach those who need it most. The navy has incurred losses on the southern coast -- it acknowledges the loss of two
vessels and the destruction of the navy bases at Kirinda and Galle -- and most probably the Tamil separatist LTTE's "Sea Tigers," on the eastern
coast in their stronghold of Mullaitivu, suffered similar losses.

The physical damage, though considerable, is being dealt with thanks to the generous contribution of friendly nations, as well as Sri Lankans from all backgrounds. We hope, however, that aid supplies are cleared quickly and dispatched, and that aid flows in -- less in the guise of foreign experts than in the form of tangible material assistance. Sri Lanka is a country that has local knowledge in areas such as agriculture, health, engineering,and telecommunications. The authorities and aid agencies must rely on the local experts when long-term development assessments are drawn up.

Although the Sri Lanka Tourist Board announced that the majority of foreign tourists were not keen to leave the country and have continued their tours inland undeterred by the calamity, Sri Lanka will for some time at least be synonymous with tsunami. It is therefore imperative that the government pulls through its plan to establish an Advanced Early Warning System supported by French and U.S. expertise, not only for the benefit of tourists and the 87,000 people who are directly or indirectly employed in tourism (which generates 4.3% of revenues), but for all Sri Lankans -- a people defined by the sea, even when it is malevolent.

Ms. Wickramasinghe is a professor in the department of History and International Relations, University of Colombo.

By wereposa ( on Sunday, January 02, 2005 - 12:36 am: Edit Post

ANOTHER RELIEF NGO that has come to my attention:

The Dutch NGO is:
ZOA-Refugee Care
Sleutelbloemstraat 8
P.O. Box 4130
The donor should write in the memo part of the check: SL/Tsunami Relief Work

They work in Amparai, Batticaloa, Trinco and Mullativu, and as of 12/29 they had cleared 20,00 bodies and provided shelter, transport and water and sanitation to 75,000. They are a
Cjristian organization, but service Hundu Tamils, Muslims and some Buddhist Sinhalese as well.

Their website is: www.ZOAweb.org

By Lloyd Chapman ( on Monday, January 03, 2005 - 11:48 pm: Edit Post

When visiting the Peace Corps website I learned about the Crisis Corps. I called them today and was told that they were focusing on Thailand, since there isn't a Peace Corps presence in Sri Lanka at this time.

I have no knowledge of the Crisis Corps, but lacking an alternative, I'll apply and hope many others will. I think if we get a big enough crew, they might consider sending a team in.

Also, there is a reporter from The Oregonian in Sri Lanka with a team of medical personnel from Northwest Medical Teams. They headed to Batticaloa today and I suspect will send daily reports. The website is OregonLive.com and the reporter is Richard Reid. Monday's article is at http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/front_page/1104756926149710.xml

By James Nengi ( on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 6:55 am: Edit Post

I sympathize with the people of Tsumani,Sri lanka and Thailand for the great disaster that happenned in ASIA.

By Peter McMinn ( on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 2:52 pm: Edit Post

I've applied to Crisis Corps hoping that I'll be able to go in the next few months. Minimum stay is 2-3 months. I know not everyone is in a situation to drop everything and go, but if you're so inclined, think about applying. Word is that a small assessment team is making a brief visit now and probably a batch of 30 or so volunteers will be underway pretty quickly. I do know there's a chance the program could be scrapped for the same reasons PC pulled out a few years ago.

Other RPCV SL discusions at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/paripu

Peter McMinn
Batch 15

By simsaffi.com (cache-los-ad02.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 8:17 am: Edit Post

Hi i am aware that aid in the form of clothing sheets and stuff like that are needed. if anyone has an direct address that i can send a barrel of these items over, i would be glad to help. I am awar that giving money is an effective solution but i am also aware that people are lacking basic items and are having to wait ages to get them from forganisations. so i would prefer to just send them to some where locally.
So anybody, please e mail me with an address of a friend or relative who you know,who has been hit bt this disatser, that needs items desperatly, so i can send items over asap.
thankyou Simsaffi.com@easy.com

By Dennis Guttsman (pool-70-23-16-122.ny325.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 1:53 pm: Edit Post

As a RPCV from Northern Sri Lanka 1968-69), I am still shaken by the recent events.
Because of the civil war, I hear that there are delays in international aid reaching the North, but I do not have direct confirmation of this.
I am told that the Rt. Rev. Dr. J Kinglsey Swampillai, Bishop of Trincomalee and Batticloa,(Bishop's House, P.O. Box 43, Batticaloa, SRI LANKA) is doing very good work on behalf the thousands stricken in his area. I sent him a check directly, avoiding any agency administrative expenses. This may be a very useful way to help.

By Casey Conlon ( on Friday, March 11, 2005 - 1:00 pm: Edit Post

I am interested in volunteering to help in Thailand. I have a University degree and have been in Thailand 3 previous times. All I need is a flight there and I could start immediately. I am willing to volunteer for 6 months or more. Please respond if you can help.

By Jay Mano (82-40-190-172.cable.ubr09.croy.blueyonder.co.uk - on Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 7:28 am: Edit Post

We have accommodation available in Trinco in Sri Lanka, 4 rooms are available with air conditioning, international television and more. For further details please contact Mr.Jay:

jm003b4810@blueyonder.co.uk or

By ananda ( on Monday, June 22, 2009 - 2:01 am: Edit Post

Our hotel situated at Anuradhapura.We have A/C conferance hall which accommodates 200 pax.We have rooms with A/C,hot water,satellite T/V, telephone,Wi/Fi and attached bathrooms.Internet/ email facility is available. vehicle park with uniformed security personnel.for further details,contact Ananda;

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