January 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Sri Lanka: Service: NGO's: Tsunami: Pittsburgh Post Gazette: RPCV Jose Ravano returns to direct CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Sri Lanka: Peace Corps Sri Lanka: The Peace Corps in Sri Lanka: January 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Sri Lanka: Service: NGO's: Tsunami: Pittsburgh Post Gazette: RPCV Jose Ravano returns to direct CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka

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RPCV Jose Ravano returns to direct CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka

RPCV Jose Ravano returns to direct CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka

RPCV Jose Ravano returns to direct CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka

Plum native returns to direct CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka

Thursday, January 06, 2005
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When Jose Ravano's phone rang in Washington, D.C., the Plum native heard his wife, Irene Fraser, in Sri Lanka. Something terrible had destroyed the lagoon on which she lived, sweeping her inland and drowning her neighbors.

She was bleeding and in shock, but had found a phone at the Norwegian Peace Mission.

"She didn't think she was going to make it. She said, 'If it comes again, I am just calling because I love you,' " he said.

When Ravano switched on his television, he realized what had nearly killed his wife, a relief worker with Save the Children. And he knew he would be called to return to Sri Lanka, where he once cared for refugees from the civil war.

 Jose Ravano

Today, Ravano begins the 29-hour journey to become relief coordinator for CARE in Sri Lanka. Yesterday, he visited the North Side warehouse of the Brother's Brother Foundation, which transports relief and development supplies. There he learned that an international transportation company in Moon, Panalpina, had offered to take two shipping containers of supplies to Sri Lanka. He was especially pleased because the magnitude of the Dec. 26 disaster may force CARE to ask transport companies for help.

Ravano, 38, is a graduate of Central Catholic High School who joined the Peace Corps after graduation from the University of Notre Dame. He earned master's degrees in public health and international relations from Johns Hopkins University. CARE then hired him to work war zones, sending him from Kosovo to Sri Lanka in 2000.

He worked inside the largely forbidden area held by the Tamil Tigers, who waged a separatist war for two decades. He set up camps for displaced persons and oversaw the rebuilding of schools. In 2001, he married Irene, a Scot who had worked on the rehabilitation of children in war zones for Oxfam and UNICEF.

Relief work caused long separations. In 2003, with a fragile truce in Sri Lanka, they moved to the United States. By night he studied human rights law at Georgetown University, while working for the Congressional Hunger Center.

But the peace stalled in Sri Lanka, in part because of problems with child soldiers. Irene accepted a 10-month contract from Save the Children to demobilize them, and returned to Sri Lanka in November.

Ravano was preparing to visit her when the calls came from his distraught wife and his former employer.

The scope of the disaster in the nation of 20 million is staggering. During the war he aided 80,000 displaced persons. Estimates of Sri Lankans left homeless by the tsunamis range from 700,000 to 1.5 million.

Most roads were terrible before the tsunami.

There are minefields in the north and flooding in the south. The most obvious immediate priorities are creation of refugee camps and clean water supplies. But long-term planning to rebuild must also begin.

Coordination with the government, the Tamil Tigers and among myriad relief agencies poses the biggest challenge. They meet daily to share information and resources, but tensions arise.

"It's expected. People are still trying to find their way on how to coordinate, where to go, what is needed," he said.

There are signs of hope. Both the army and the Tamil Tigers have been heroic, he said.

"Political parties that have caused tension in the country have come to the rescue of their opposition," he said.

Donations can be made to CARE at 1-888-521-CARE Ext. 999; and to Brother's Brother at 412-321-3160.

(Ann Rodgers can be reached at arodgers@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416.)

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Peace Corps issues appeal to Thailand RPCVs Date: December 30 2004 No: 354 Peace Corps issues appeal to Thailand 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.

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Story Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Sri Lanka; Service; NGO's; Tsunami



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